", by 
Licensed under 
CC BY 2.0

What is Mayhem?

As outlined in California’s Penal Code 203, a mayhem charge is classified as a felony that can result in up to eight years in state prison and a fine of $10,000. Additionally, other factors such as the age of the victim, if they have any disabilities, and even just the severity of the incident may result in further charges. 

While the definition of mayhem can be a little broad depending upon the circumstances, typically mayhem revolves around the following actions: 

  • Maiming or removing a person’s body part such as a limb. 
  • Cutting or disabling a person’s tongue. 
  • Leaving either temporary or permanent disfigurements which can range from paralyzing an individual for life or leaving temporary burn scars. 
  • Puncturing someone’s eye. 
  • Slitting someone’s lips, ears, or nose. 

While these are the usual physical conditions surrounding a mayhem charge, there are other elements required for an incident to be considered mayhem. For a crime to be considered mayhem, it also needs to be intentional and/or malicious. As such, instances, where a mayhem charge can be reduced to a misdemeanor (or dismissed altogether), may include: 

  • An injury that took place during a heated argument where serious bodily harm was either an accident or was caused during emotional distress. 
  • The defendant was operating within the grounds of self-defense such as puncturing a person’s eye while they were trying to rob them. 
  • The defendant is being falsely accused of a crime they didn’t commit and/or the alleged crime was an accident instead. 

However, a crime can still result in a mayhem charge even if the outcome that happened wasn’t the perpetrator’s intention. An example may include when a victim is being robbed/threatened with a weapon such as a knife or gun. 

Instead of fully cooperating, the victim instead acts in their legal right of self-defense and tries to stop the perpetrator. Amidst the struggle, the victim is harmed by the weapon, such as having their ear cut off or being paralyzed by a bullet.  

Although it wasn’t their intention to harm their victim in such a way, because they were already acting unlawfully and exercising force with a deadly weapon, they can still be charged with mayhem. 

Due to the severe penalties that a mayhem charge can bring, having an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side is the best solution. They will be able to work with you to make sure you receive the best representation. Depending upon your circumstances, they may even be able to reduce your charge to a misdemeanor. 

Regardless of the classification of the offense, it is important that you seek the assistance of competent legal counsel to help you best understand your legal defense while identifying an outcome that best minimizes your risk. We here at the H Law group patiently await your call.

H Law Group Online

Legal Tips straight to your inbox!

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
No spam. Unsubscribe anytime.