California Penal Code Section 12022.7 - Great Bodily Injury

In People v. Escobar (1992) 3 Cal.4th 740, the court held that a "significant or substantial physical injury" does not need to meet any particular standard of severity or duration, but must be a "substantial injury beyond that inherent in the offense." (Id. at pp. 746-747, 750.) The court also held that a victim need not suffer "'permanent,' 'prolonged' or 'protracted' disfigurement, impairment, or loss of bodily function" for a jury to conclude that a victim suffered great bodily injury within the meaning of the sentence enhancement. (Id. at pp. 749-750, disapproving People v. Caudillo (1978) 21 Cal.3d 562 (Caudillo).) Proof that a victim's injuries are significant or substantial "is commonly established by evidence of the severity of the victim's physical injury, the resulting pain, or the medical care required to treat or repair the injury." (People v. Cross (2008) 45 Cal.4th 58, 66, citing People v. Harvey (1992) 7 Cal.App.4th 823, 827-828.) Abrasions, lacerations, and bruising can constitute great bodily injury. (Escobar, supra, 3 Cal.4th at p. 752; People v. Washington (2012) 210 Cal.App.4th 1042, 1047.) In Escobar, the court upheld the great bodily injury enhancement where the victim suffered extensive bruises and abrasions, as well as injuries to her neck and vaginal area, which impaired her ability to walk. (Escobar, at p. 750.) Section 12022.7, subdivision (a), provides for a three-year enhancement for personally inflicting great bodily injury in the commission or attempted commission of a felony. Great bodily injury is defined as "a significant or substantial physical injury." ( 12022.7, subd. (f).) When determining whether the evidence was sufficient to sustain a conviction, "our role on appeal is a limited one." (People v. Ochoa (1993) 6 Cal.4th 1199, 1206.) "The test of whether evidence is sufficient to support a conviction is 'whether, after viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.'" (People v. Holt (1997) 15 Cal.4th 619, 667.) "We draw all reasonable inferences in support of the judgment." (People v. Wader (1993) 5 Cal.4th 610, 640.) Reversal is not warranted unless it appears "'that upon no hypothesis whatever is there sufficient substantial evidence to support the conviction.'" (People v. Bolin (1998) 18 Cal.4th 297, 331.) "'"Whether the harm resulting to the victim . . . constitutes great bodily injury is a question of fact for the jury. If there is sufficient evidence to sustain the jury's finding of great bodily injury, we are bound to accept it, even though the circumstances might reasonably be reconciled with a contrary finding."'" (People v. Escobar (1992) 3 Cal.4th 740, 750, fn. omitted (Escobar).) In People v. Le (2006) 137 Cal.App.4th 54, 59, the court declined to find that "'mere soft tissue injury'" could not be significant and substantial within the meaning of section 12022.7. In People v. Bustos (1994) 23 Cal.App.4th 1747, 1755, the court found that lacerations, contusions and abrasions suffered by a victim who was punched in the face and knocked to the ground supported a great bodily injury finding.