Penal Code 12022.7 Case

In People v. Corona (1989) 213 Cal. App. 3d 589, 261 Cal. Rptr. 765, a group of men attacked the victim, repeatedly hitting and kicking him. Corona was a member of this group, although the victim could not testify as to which defendant inflicted which injury. Charged with the enhancement of the personal infliction of great bodily injury, Corona argued he could not be guilty of the enhancement without such evidence. The appellate court disagreed, noting his personal conduct was proven to have been adequate to have inflicted the injury suffered by the victim. The court emphasized that "in discussing the argument that in a moral sense one who directs an assault is as culpable as the actor himself, the court [in People v. Cole (1982) 31 Cal. 3d 568, 183 Cal. Rptr. 350, 645 P.2d 1182] noted that expanding the scope of section 12022.7 [the enhancement statute] to persons who directed the infliction of injury would pose difficult questions in future cases. The court then stated: 'In any event, the distinction between the person who actually inflicts the injury and the person who does not, is clearly consonant with the legislative purpose, and cannot be described as leading to absurd consequences.'" ( Corona, supra, 213 Cal. App. 3d at p. 593.) In Corona, the jury found the defendant personally battered the victim while other assailants inflicted simultaneous injuries of equivalent force, any one of which was sufficient to inflict the harm. In such a situation, it was impossible to determine the single source of the victim's great bodily injury because of the simultaneous actions of multiple perpetrators. "Thus, while it is true the evidence fails to directly attribute any particular injury suffered by [the victim] to any particular blow struck by [Corona], still, the blows were delivered, Corona joined in that delivery and the victim suffered great bodily injury." ( Corona, supra, 213 Cal. App. 3d at p. 594.) In conclusion, the Corona court carved out an exception, but an intentionally narrow one: "We do not attempt to set forth a universally applicable test for when an individual ceases to be an accomplice and becomes a direct participant to the infliction of great bodily injury. The Court concludef only 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." (Ibid.)