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Can I be charged with a Felony for Mayhem?

Although not as well-known as other crimes such as aggravated battery and torture, a mayhem charge is treated very seriously in California. Classified as a felony, a mayhem charge carries a harsh punishment. As laid out in California's Penal Code 203, a mayhem charge can result in two, four, or eight years in state prison, and a fine up to $10,000. Your sentence may be enhanced if your victim meets some of the following conditions:

  • They’re 65 years or older. 
  • They’re 14 years or younger. 
  • They have a disability such as being blind, deaf, developmentally disabled, or are paraplegic or quadriplegic.

Additionally, you can be charged with a more severe crime–aggravated mayhem–resulting in life in state prison with the possibility of parole. However, while a charge of mayhem carries with it severe consequences, the definition for what may constitute mayhem can be broad depending upon the situation. On the surface, mayhem often revolves around these elements:

  • Depriving a person of a body part such as a limb. 
  • Cutting or disabling their tongue. 
  • Disfiguring or disabling a person’s body part such as leaving permanent scars from burns or reducing their arm’s mobility. 
  • Puncturing someone’s eye. 
  • Slitting someone’s nose, ears, or lips. 

There are some legal defenses when it comes to mayhem, and an experienced criminal defense attorney can argue them on your behalf. Depending upon the factors surrounding the case, some legal defenses include: 

  • You didn’t commit the act intentionally or maliciously. 
  • You were falsely accused by another party. 
  • You were acting in self-defense or trying to protect others. 

A criminal defense attorney can help reduce the charge of mayhem to something lesser like a battery. Doing so can result in a misdemeanor charge, allowing for less jail time and much smaller fines. In the example of being charged with battery, the defendant will typically face six months to a year in county jail and/or a $2,000 fine. 

Situations where a lawyer can argue reducing a mayhem charge could include: 

  • The defendant got into an altercation with the alleged victim that lead to the injury, but the act wasn’t committed intentionally/maliciously.
  • The injury was the result of a victim acting in self-defense. 
  • The injury was an accident, such as a sports injury that leaves the alleged victim temporary or permanently disabled. 

As listed in California's Penal Code 203, a mayhem charge is a felony that can result in hefty prison time and huge fines. That’s why having an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side is pivotal. They can help reduce the charge to a misdemeanor.

H Law Group Online

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