So California has a rule which says that if you commit a crime against someone and cause them great bodily injury, then you get an enhancement. The law says that it has to be a significant injury, and has to be intentionally caused. Here's the rub, while it only adds 3 years to a sentence in most circumstances, in the last 14 years, it has also made any crime a "strike" (you all have heard of 3 strikes, right?). It also forces people to serve 85% of their time if the allegation is found true.
So, as you can probably guess, prosecutors love this enhancement. And when they love something, they misuse it. Now, let's think of the way in which they can misuse this one: it requires GREAT bodily injury, so perhaps they could stretch the meaning of great so that every minor injury now constitutes great bodily injury; and it requires that the injury be caused intentionally, so perhaps they could try to extend accidents to "intentionally.
If that sounds absurd, or insidious, or something else, you are right, it is. It's also what's happened.
Just about every injury, no matter how minor, when blood is drawn, is now charged as great bodily injury. Get into a fight with someone and give them a bloody nose? Great bodily injury. Scratch someone and cut them? Great bodily injury. It used to be that the injury had to be significant. Now, no matter how minor it is, it is charged. And, since it is almost always a factual determination, no judge will ever dismiss a great bodily injury allegation based on insufficient evidence, so everyone charged with this must go to trial for it, no matter how minor a case it really is. Or, the prosecution can squeeze a plea out of someone in a bullshit case out of fear of going to trial. Very effective.
The other aspect, that it must be willfully and intentionally caused, has also been under assault. The best example of that is in the area of DUI accidents. Now, I'm no big fan of drunk drivers, but if you get into an accident, someone is likely to get injured. Can anyone say that this is an intentional causing of great bodily injury like stabbing someone? Do we really call these people violent offenders and give them strikes? And think about it, more than one person is likely to be injured in this situation, so while someone who shoots at a person may come out with only one strike, a person who gets into a car accident while drunk and where no one is significantly hurt can walk out with multiple strikes (meaning he gets a life sentence if he picks up a forgery or drug possession in the future) and a very long prison sentence. Again, I'm not saying I have some great love for drunk drivers, but let's call a spade a spade - unless there's some evidence they do it serially in some manner, it's hardly violent (potentially dangerous, sure, but violent?).
Now the California Supreme Court has just validated the latest absurdity - pregnancy is great bodily injury. I did realize that I caused great bodily injury to my wife when I got her pregnant for our two kids, but evidently I'm a violent felon worth of 25 to life. In the case at bar, some dude raped his step-daughter (not an action I advocate, by the way, I'm even willing to go out on a limb and call it evil), and got her pregnant. Now, if he is convicted of this, he faces 16 years in prison (and he has to do 85%), but if he causes great bodily injury (of course, this was originally intended to mean something like pistol whipping the person, or stabbing them, or beating them to a pulp) in a case like this, it turns into a life case. Now, again, I have no sympathy for those who bang their 13 year old stepdaughters, and if he really did cause her great bodily injury, and this is the law, the fine, give him life.
But, let's face it, these prosecutors basically said "I want to give this guy life even though the law doesn't call for it, so I'm going to make up some bullshit to get him a life sentence." And the Cal Supreme Court went along with it - absolutely incredible. Once again, it just blows me away the extent to which California Courts will go along with whatever absurdity some idiotic prosecutor comes up with.
The funny thing is if this was a civil lawsuit, where someone was claiming great bodily injury for becoming pregnant, the lawsuit would be thrown out as frivolous (especially if it was against some big business or corporate interest). But, if the only sanction is not money, but someone merely spending the rest of their life in prison, then whatever, let's suspend critical thinking.