California Penal Code Section 12022.7 - Interpretation

1. In People v. Cole (1982) 31 Cal.3d 568, the Supreme Court reviewed the legislative history behind the 1977 amendment to Penal Code section 12022.7, and concluded "the Legislature intended to impose an additional penalty for causing great bodily injury only on those principals who perform the act that directly inflicts the injury, and that one who merely aids, abets, or directs another to inflict the physical injury is not subject to the enhanced penalty of section 12022.7." ( People v. Cole, supra, 31 Cal.3d. at p. 571.) "The meaning of the statutory language is clear: the enhancement applies only to a person who himself inflicts the injury." ( Id. at p. 572.) the enhancement thus only applies "to those who directly perform the act that causes the physical injury to the victim." ( Id. at p. 579.) "The choice of the word 'personally' necessarily excludes those who may have aided or abetted the actor directly inflicting the injury." ( Id. at p. 572) In People v. Corona (1989) 213 Cal.App.3d 589, the court carved out an exception to Cole based on a situation in which a group of men attacked the victim, hitting and kicking him repeatedly, and inflicting serious injuries. Defendant was convicted of assault and battery with a Penal Code section 12022.7 enhancement for great bodily injury. On appeal, defendant relied on Cole and argued the enhancement could not stand because there was no evidence defendant personally inflicted any particular injury. the court disagreed and concluded that "when a defendant participates in a group beating and when it is not possible to determine which assailant inflicted which injuries, the defendant may be punished with a great bodily injury enhancement if his conduct was of a nature that it could have caused the great bodily injury suffered." (213 Cal.App.3d. at p. 594.) Corona reasoned that a literal application of Cole's holding "would lead to the insulation of individuals who engage in group beatings. Only those whose foot could be traced to a particular kick, whose fist could be patterned to a certain blow or whose weapon could be aligned with a visible injury would be punished. the more severe the beating, the more difficult would be the tracing of culpability." (Ibid.) 2. In People v. Parrish (1985) 170 Cal. App. 3d 336, 217 Cal. Rptr. 700, the defendant was convicted of assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury ( 245). In addition, it was found that he inflicted great bodily injury ( 12022.7). the defendant appealed, claiming he could not be punished for the great bodily injury enhancements. The Court noted, "infliction of great bodily injury is not an element of assault by means likely to produce great bodily injury." (170 Cal. App. 3d at p. 343.) In addition, the enhancement required proof of the specific intent, which the underlying crime did not. ( Id. at pp. 343-344.) We found the defendant could be separately punished for the great bodily injury enhancement. " Penal Code section 12022.7 is not a substantive offense by itself. Rather, it is a legislative attempt to punish more severely those crimes which actually result in great bodily injury. Penal Code section 12022.7 applies to all offenses except those where serious bodily injury is already an element of the substantive offense charged. As noted above, a violation of Penal Code section 245, subdivision (a), does not require the showing of any actual injury. Thus, punishment under Penal Code section 245, subdivision (a), with an enhancement under Penal Code section 12022.7 is not double punishment for the same offense in violation of Penal Code section 654. As noted above, Penal Code section 12022.7 does not define a separate offense but merely imposes additional punishment." ( People v. Parrish, supra, 170 Cal. App. 3d at p. 344.)