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List of Great Bodily Injury Sentence Enhancements

Our legislature has singled out certain types of behavior as worthy of punishment with an enhanced sentence.  In this context, great bodily injury refers to “substantial or significant bodily injury or damage” and not to “trivial or insignificant injury of moderate harm.”  People v. Caudillo (1978) 21 Cal.3d 562, 580, at n. 12 (quoting former CALJIC 17.20), overturned on other grounds in People v. Martinez (1999) 20 Cal.4th 225, 229. 

However, whether an injury constitutes a great bodily injury is a question of fact for the jury.  People v. Wolcott (1983) 34 Cal.3d 92, 107.

Originally, Penal Code § 12022.7 was the Legislature’s intent to increase punishment for the infliction of great bodily injury (other than to an accomplice) when substantial injury beyond that inherent in the offense has occurred.

Now, there are 22 more.  Here are 23 such enhancements (including 12022.7) for great bodily injury (GBI) or death, in order as they appear in the Penal Code, with the last one appearing in the Health and Safety Code. 

Four of the enhancements pertain to elder abuse, two to arson, two to use of a firearm,  and seven relate to personal infliction of GBI in various contexts.
  1. Penal Code § 236.4(b), causing GBI on victim in commission of or attempted commission of human trafficking, 5, 7 or 10 years;
  2. Penal Code § 273.4, female genital mutilation, 1 year;
  3. Penal Code § 347(a)(2), willfully adding poison or harmful substances that may cause death or GBI to food, drink, medicine, pharmaceuticals, spring well, reservoir, or public water supply, 1 year;
  4. Penal Code § 368(b)(2)(A), causing GBI on elder or dependent adult under 70 years old, 3 years;
  5. Penal Code § 368(b)(2)(B), causing GBI on elder or dependent adult over 70 years old, 5 years;
  6. Penal Code § 368(b)(3)(A), proximately causing death of elder or dependent adult under 70 years old, 5 years;
  7. Penal Code § 368(b)(3)(B), proximately causing death of elder or dependent adult over 70 years old, 7 years;
  8. Penal Code § 451.1(a)(2) – (3), proximately causing GBI to firefighter, peace officer, emergency personnel, or more than one person by act of arson, 3, 4 or 5 years;
  9. Penal Code § 452.1(a)(2) – (3), proximately causing GBI to firefighter, peace officer, emergency personnel, or more than one person by causing a fire, 3, 4 or 5 years;
  10. Penal Code § 550(g) – causing GBI as a result of a staged auto accident (most likely in conjunction with insurance fraud or vandalism), 2 years;
  11. Penal Code § 593a(b) – causing GBI (to other than accomplice) by interfering with tree harvesting, 3 years;
  12. Penal Code § 600(d) – personally causing GBI to any person (other than accomplice) while obstructing, harming, or interfering with a police dog or horse, this makes the underlying felony a serious or violent felony (so good time / work time credits are limited), 2 years;
  13. Penal Code § 12022.53(d) – proximately causing GBI or death (other than to accomplice) by personal and intentional discharge of firearm during a specified felony, 25 years;
  14. Penal Code § 12022.55 – inflicting GBI or death as a result of discharging a firearm from a vehicle, intent to cause GBI required, 5, 6 or 10 years;
  15. Penal Code § 12022.7(a) – personal infliction of GBI (other than on accomplice), 3 years;
  16. Penal Code § 12022.7(b) - personal infliction of GBI (other than on accomplice) causing coma due to brain injury or permanent paralysis (we have seen this in a “shaken baby” case), 5 years;
  17. Penal Code § 12022.7(c) - personal infliction of GBI (other than on accomplice) 70 years or older, 5 years;
  18. Penal Code § 12022.7(d) - personal infliction of GBI (other than on accomplice) on child under the age of five (we have seen this in a felony DUI context), 4, 5 or 6 years;
  19. Penal Code § 12022.7(e) - personal infliction of GBI in domestic violence situation (we have seen this regularly), 3, 4 or 5 years;
  20. Penal Code § 12022.8 – inflicting GBI during specified sex offenses, 5 years;
  21. Penal Code § 12022.9 – personal infliction of injury resulting in termination of pregnancy, 5 years;
  22. Penal Code § 12022.95 – death of child during Penal Code § 273a violation; and
  23. Health & Safety Code § 25189.7 – causing GBI during burning of hazardous waste.
For more information about the great bodily injury sentencing enhancement, please click on the following articles:
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