There are some words which have a different meaning in the context of the law than they do in everyday parlance. “Mayhem” is one of those words. In general usage, the word simply implies a type of conduct that results in unnecessary damage to another. In California, there is actually a violent crime called “mayhem,” and conviction of this offense can result in harsh consequences. If you have been charged with the crime of mayhem, an experienced Riverside or San Bernardino assault defense lawyer can help you protect your legal rights going forward. The Law Office of Gregory H.Comings handles mayhem cases and can potentially represent you if you have been accused of this criminal offense.
Under California Penal Code §§ 203-205, the crime of mayhem occurs when someone deprives another person of a “member” of his or body (such as an arm or leg), disables or disfigures the other person, cuts or disable’s another’s tongue, puts someone’s eye out, or slits another person’s nose, ear, or lip. Needless to say, it would not be a crime for a surgeon to perform a medical procedure on someone that results in this kind of harm (so long as there was consent to the surgery); rather, the crime of mayhem only occurs when the defendant acts unlawfully or maliciously. If the defendant acted in a manner to intentionally cause permanent disability, disfigurement, or the loss of a limb or organ, this is called “aggravated mayhem” under California law and results in more severe punishment.
Because the harm from an act of criminal mayhem is likely to cause serious physical and emotional harm to the victim, the law punishes the crime of mayhem harshly. Both mayhem and aggravated mayhem are felonies in California. Any felony conviction can result in the deprivation of certain civil rights, such as the right to possess a firearm or hold certain public offices. A felony conviction can also be a lifelong mark on one’s record, resulting in difficulty finding work and even housing. The exact sentence for a regular mayhem conviction can vary, but a defendant can face anywhere from two to eight years in the state penitentiary, and he or she may be ordered to pay a fine of up to $10,000. There may be other consequences, such as paying restitution to the victim or being required to undergo some type of counselling. A conviction for the more serious offense of aggravated mayhem can send the defendant to prison for life, although there may be a possibility of parole in some cases.
There are several possible defenses to a charge of mayhem, including self-defense or the defense of another person. In some situations, the defendant may be able to show that his or her conduct was accidental, rather than unlawful, malicious, or intentional. False accusations and mistaken identity are also possible defenses to a charge of mayhem. Certain constitutional defenses may also apply, especially if police conducted a questionable search and seizure or took a statement without reading the defendant his or her Miranda rights. While it may not possible to get a mayhem charge completely dismissed, a skilled defense attorney may be able to get the State’s attorney to agree to a lesser charge or a lighter sentence through a plea bargain agreement.
The Law Office of Gregory H.Comings can further explain the seriousness of a mayhem charge and help you put forth a defense if you are facing a criminal case. We are available to serve clients in the Riverside and San Bernardino areas, and will take the time to answer your questions regarding the charges against you and how you can protect your future. To learn more, call us at (951) 686-3457 or contact us online. We offer a consultation and are available to respond to your inquiry 24/7.