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Name: People v. Meneses
Case #: G043037
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 03/24/2011

Whether pregnancy is “a significant or substantial physical injury” to support enhancement for a great bodily injury is a fact question for the jury. The enhancement here was pursuant to Penal Code sections 12022.8 and 667.61, subdivisions (b) and (e). A twelve-year-old girl was impregnated by her older male cousin. At age 13, after at least 19 hours a labor, a child was born. There was self-evident trauma and suffering during delivery. The lack of further details about the size of the fetus or the point at which the girl became aware of the pregnancy did not require a reversal for lack of sufficient evidence. Instead, there was conflicting evidence for the jury to weigh. The decision was influenced by Justice Corrigan’s concurring opinion in People v. Cross (2008) 45 Cal.4th 58, 72-77 which posited that pregnancy is categorically different from other injuries and will always impose on the victim a sufficient impact to meet the great bodily injury standard whether it results in childbirth, abortion or miscarriage. A concurring opinion by Justice Bedsworth in this case argues that the Legislature or the Supreme Court should adopt the Cross concurrence to render pregnancy, by its very nature, meets the great bodily injury standard. A concurring opinion by Justice Aronson argues on the other hand that any change in the law should come from the Legislature and not the courts. Removing the issue from the jury by a judicial fiat would violate a defendant’s right of due process and trial by jury.