How to Win an Aggravated Mayhem Case

Aaron Spolin

Aggravated mayhem attorney Aaron Spolin has utilized successful strategies to win cases throughout California.

Violent crimes like Penal Code (PC) 205 aggravated mayhem can result in decades in prison. That’s why it’s important to work with an attorney who has proven strategies for winning cases like these. Former prosecutor and award-winning criminal defense attorney Aaron Spolin leads Spolin Law P.C. to target the State’s case against you.

Some of the strategies Mr. Spolin and his team use include:

  1. File Legal “Motions” to Exclude Evidence and Dismiss the Case: A motion is a request to the judge for certain actions. The legal team at Spolin Law P.C. is skilled at drafting motions that persuade the court to exclude (or suppress) the prosecution’s key evidence and get the entire case dismissed, when possible.
  2. Gather and Analyze All the Evidence: The attorneys at Spolin Law P.C. will request all of the evidence that has been obtained by the prosecution. Then, they may conduct an independent investigation to collect as much information as possible. That evidence will be analyzed to determine if it is valid, whether it was collected legally, and how it can support the dismissal of your charges for aggravated mayhem.
  3. Develop Strong Defenses and Present them in Court: Aggravated mayhem has several elements that the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt. Your lawyer does not have to prove your innocence, instead defenses are used to plant doubt of your guilt in the mind of the jury. Any amount of reasonable doubt will not support a conviction.

To learn more about how these strategies might apply to your case, call Mr. Spolin and his team at their law firm, Spolin Law P.C. at (310) 424-5816.

  1. How to Win an Aggravated Mayhem Case
  2. What Is Aggravated Mayhem?
  3. Penalty for Aggravated Mayhem in California
  4. Legal Defenses to Aggravated Mayhem Charges
  5. Learn About the Top Aggravated Mayhem Attorneys at Spolin Law P.C.

What Is Aggravated Mayhem?

“Mayhem” in the ordinary sense of the word means violent disorder or chaos. But in criminal law, mayhem means something entirely different. The criminal term is derived from the word “maim” and means to cause an injury that disfigures or disables the victim. Mayhem is a significant crime in California and aggravated mayhem even more so.

Elements of Aggravated Mayhem Under PC 205

California Penal Code (PC) 205 defines aggravated mayhem as follows:

A person is guilty of aggravated mayhem when he or she unlawfully, under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the physical or psychological well-being of another person, intentionally causes permanent disability or disfigurement of another human being or deprives a human being of a limb, organ, or member of his or her body.

The elements required to prove aggravated mayhem are:

  1. The person unlawfully and maliciously disabled or disfigured someone permanently OR deprived someone else of a limb, organ, or part of their body; AND
  2. The person intended to permanently disable or disfigure the other person OR deprive the other person of a limb, organ, or part of their body; AND
  3. Under the circumstances, the person showed extreme indifference to the physical or psychological well-being of the other person.

Aggravated Mayhem Requires Actual Harm

While many crimes in California depend on the intent of the person committing the crime, aggravated mayhem focuses also on the consequences the wrongful act. That means actual harm must be caused – disability, disfigurement, or deprivation of a limb or part of the body.

What Is Malice?

To be convicted of aggravated mayhem, a person must first act maliciously or with malice in disfiguring or disabling another person. Maliciousness in California criminal law means intentionally doing a wrongful act or acting with the unlawful intent to annoy or injure someone else. Thus, the person must intend to annoy or injure another.

Permanent Disability or Disfigurement

To be guilty of aggravated mayhem, a person must cause permanent disability or disfigurement or loss of a body part to another person. If the disability or disfigurement is only temporary, a charge of aggravated mayhem must fail.

However, the fact that medical treatment could prevent the injury from becoming permanent or reverse the permanency does not make the injury impermanent. For example, intentionally cutting off someone’s finger under circumstances of extreme indifference to the well-being of the victim is aggravated mayhem even if the finger may be reattached through surgery.

If you have questions about how the elements of this crime may or may not apply to your case, contact Spolin Law P.C. at (310) 424-5816.

Aggravated Mayhem Requires Specific Intent

Aggravated mayhem is a specific intent crime in California. That means a person must intend to permanently disable or disfigure another person or to deprive that person of a limb, organ, or other part of their body.

In contrast, simple mayhem requires only that the person intended to commit the wrongful act that causes the disfigurement, disability, or deprivation. They do not have to intend to cause the specific injury that the victim suffered.

Aggravated mayhem requires that the person intend to permanently disfigure or disable another person or to deprive them of a limb, organ, or body part. This is significantly different from simple mayhem, which requires only the intent to injure.

If, for example, a person acts with the unlawful intent to cut someone with a knife and accidently cuts off the victim’s finger, the person has acted maliciously because they intended to injure but did not intend to cut off a finger. That person is guilty of mayhem.

If the same person cuts someone in the face with a knife intending to cause a permanent scar, and the victim in fact sustains a permanent scar, that person acted intentionally and is guilty of aggravated mayhem.

What If the Victim Dies?

If the victim dies of the wounds inflicted, the attacker may still be guilty of aggravated mayhem, but proof of intent to kill is not required. A person who kills another while committing aggravated mayhem is guilty of felony murder.

How Does the Prosecution Prove Intent?

The intent to permanently disable or disfigure someone or to deprive them of a limb or body part can be shown by circumstantial evidence. It may be inferred from the acts of the person who injured another.

However, specific intent to maim may not be inferred solely from evidence that the injury inflicted was disabling or disfiguring or was the loss of a body part. Other facts and circumstances must exist to support an inference of intent.

A jury may consider the manner in which the attack was accomplished and the means used to inflict injury, among other factors.

Extreme Indifference to the Well-Being of Another Person

Aggravated mayhem requires that the crime be committed under circumstances “manifesting extreme indifference to the physical or psychological well-being of another person.” Extreme indifference is determined by the particular circumstances of the crime.

Hitting violently and repeatedly, using a dangerous weapon, or injuring someone around the head and neck may show indifference to someone’s physical well-being. A series of taunts or viable threats to disable or disfigure someone before actually committing the act may show indifference to the mental well-being of the victim.

Indiscriminate Attack

As stated above, aggravated mayhem requires that a person specifically intend to cause the injury that resulted from their unlawful act. The person must intend to cause a disabling or disfiguring injury or to deprive another of a limb, organ, or other body part. Without this intent, a charge of aggravated mayhem fails. The requisite intent may be inferred from the circumstances of the crime.

However, if a person disables or disfigures the victim or causes the victim to lose a body part in an “indiscriminate” or random attack on the victim’s body, the attack is insufficient to demonstrate intent. For example, if a person attacks another person, kicking him in the leg, hitting him in the head, and generally beating the person all over his body in a single incident, that person does not have the intent required for aggravated mayhem even if the victim suffers a disabling or disfiguring injury or loses a limb, organ, or other body part. The person would be guilty of mayhem (and possibly other crimes, such as battery with serious bodily injury) but not aggravated mayhem. Intent requires showing that the person committed a controlled, directed, limited attack to the part of the body disabled, disfigured, or lost.

The injury does not need to happen in one attack. Repeatedly beating a child can constitute aggravated mayhem. In one case, medical testimony showed that the victim suffered repeated injuries to her lips, ears, head, teeth, mouth, and arms, which caused permanent scars and damage. The court held that the specific intent to maim a body part could be inferred from the repeated, systematic abuse to a specific body part.

  1. How to Win an Aggravated Mayhem Case
  2. What Is Aggravated Mayhem?
  3. Penalty for Aggravated Mayhem in California
  4. Legal Defenses to Aggravated Mayhem Charges
  5. Learn About the Top Aggravated Mayhem Attorneys at Spolin Law P.C.

Penalty for Aggravated Mayhem in California

Aggravated mayhem is a serious felony in California, punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for life with the possibility of parole.

The sentence may be enhanced if the defendant faces multiple convictions. For example, possibility of parole may be removed if there was more than one victim who was permanently disfigured or disabled, other felonies were committed in addition to aggravated mayhem, or there was an intent to murder the victim.

Additionally, as a violent felony, it is a strike under California’s three-strike rule. That means if you have been convicted of previous violent felonies, your penalties will increase with this one – possibly even up to life in prison.

  1. How to Win an Aggravated Mayhem Case
  2. What Is Aggravated Mayhem?
  3. Penalty for Aggravated Mayhem in California
  4. Legal Defenses to Aggravated Mayhem Charges
  5. Learn About the Top Aggravated Mayhem Attorneys at Spolin Law P.C.

Legal Defenses to Aggravated Mayhem Charges

Attorneys Aaron Spolin and Don Nguyen | Spolin Law P.C.

The legal team at Spolin Law P.C. discuss possible legal defenses against a PC 205 charge.

Because the crime of aggravated mayhem is defined narrowly and requires proof of specific intent, the following may be defenses to a charge:

  • Lack of a permanent disability, disfigurement, or loss of limb or other body part. If the victim did not suffer a permanent injury of this type, a charge of aggravated mayhem must fail.
  • Lack of intent to cause a permanent disability, disfigurement, or loss of a limb or other body part.
  • Lack of maliciousness, that is, lack of intent to intent to annoy or injure another person.
  • Lack of extreme indifference to a person’s physical or psychological well-being.
  • Lack of a focused attack. If the injury was caused by an indiscriminate attack on the body of another person, a charge of aggravated mayhem must fail. This defense usually comes into play in circumstances in which a person, in a fit of anger, causes injuries all over the body of another. Without a targeted, limited attack on the body part, a charge of aggravated mayhem is not viable. This is not to say that causing multiple injuries will not lead to charges of aggravated mayhem if each injury was controlled and limited to a specific body part and if the person acted with the intent to permanently disable, disfigure, or cause a loss of a body part to another person. Each injury may be aggravated mayhem under those circumstances.

To find out which defenses might be viable in your case, call the Spolin Law P.C. aggravated mayhem team at (310) 424-5816.

Crimes Similar to Aggravated Mayhem

If a person lacked specific intent, did not cause permanent injuries, or committed an indiscriminate attack on another, they may not be charged with aggravated mayhem. However, other closely related crimes come into play, including:

  • Mayhem
  • Attempted aggravated mayhem
  • Torture
  • Assault with a deadly weapon
  • Aggravated battery causing great bodily injury

If the state cannot prove intent, permanent injury, or extreme indifference to the physical or psychological well-being of the victim, the aggressor may be charged with one of the above crimes. These crimes carry a lesser penalty than aggravated mayhem.

  1. How to Win an Aggravated Mayhem Case
  2. What Is Aggravated Mayhem?
  3. Penalty for Aggravated Mayhem in California
  4. Legal Defenses to Aggravated Mayhem Charges
  5. Learn About the Top Aggravated Mayhem Attorneys at Spolin Law P.C.

Learn About the Top Aggravated Mayhem Attorneys at Spolin Law P.C.

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The top aggravated mayhem attorneys at Spolin Law P.C. know how to achieve success in cases like these. Call for a review of your case: (310) 424-5816.

An aggravated mayhem charge under Penal Code 205 is a violent offense that can result in decades in prison. Spolin Law P.C.’s major crimes attorneys have a record of successful outcomes in felony cases.
Our experienced lawyers win cases because:

  • We know the law. We know PC 205 inside and out. We understand the elements of this crime and can work to show that the prosecution cannot meet the burden of proving that you are guilty.
  • We have a history of success. Our prior success in violent felony cases exhibit that we can protect our clients’ rights and get a positive outcome. (Every case is unique, and prior success is not a “guarantee” of the same outcome on a future case.)
  • We know how to win. Winning a case requires an attorney to use strategies that persuade the court and jury to rule in our client’s favor. We strive to win every case for our clients.

If you have questions about your case, contact Mr. Spolin at the law firm Spolin Law P.C. at (310) 424-5816.