Pouring or placing a corrosive substance on another intending to injure them can attract criminal charges under PC 244. Facing a criminal charge can be a devastating experience in your life, and you might have many questions, like “Will I serve time,” or “Will I lose my employment.” Your future, family, reputation, life, and finances are at stake. The experienced Michele Ferroni Pasadena Criminal Attorney Law Firm understands your feelings, knows the PAsadena criminal judicial system, and can help you. We can collect evidence and investigate your case facts to identify the prosecutor’s case weakness and develop the most effective legal strategy to obtain the most favorable case outcome possible.
What is Assault with Caustic Chemicals?
PC 244 provides that an individual who maliciously and willfully throws or places or causes another person to throw or place upon another:
- A corrosive acid,
- Caustic chemical,
- Vitriol, or
- Flammable substance.
Iintending to injure or disfigure them, serves up to four years in California state prison.
Defining a Caustic Chemical
Caustic chemicals are substances that can burn or destroy living tissues. Typically, caustic chemicals are strong acid and base solutions that could cause long effects upon contact with skin and could damage internal organs when swallowed.
Vitriol is a category of caustic chemical. Specifically, it alludes to sulfuric acid and other compounds with similar characteristics.
Additionally, PC 244 refers to a flammable substance. A flammable substance includes flammable liquids, petroleum products, and gasoline with a flashpoint that does not exceed 150 degrees Fahrenheit.
A flashpoint is the least temperature at which the liquid’s vapor can catch fire.
People use caustic chemicals in everyday life. Therefore, it is wise to use the chemical cautiously, mainly in workplaces. Typical caustic chemicals in the workplace are nitric acid, hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid, chromic acid, and hydrofluoric acid. Diesel, gasoline, and specific oil-based paints are frequently used in homes. If you use these chemicals, review their usage guidelines set out by Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to avoid legal trouble.
Maliciously and Willfully
You act willfully when you engage in an act purposely.
On the other hand, maliciously means you willfully engaged in a crime and acted with an intent to annoy, injure, defraud, or disturb somebody else.
Placing or Hurling, or Causing to be Thrown or Placed
The legal term “threw or placed” means a calculated physical movement that has many explanations to demonstrate any form of physical activity that could culminate in the maltreatment happening.
Causing the placing or throwing of a caustic chemical without you being actively involved does change the legal essence of the criminal case. It does not matter your behavior or how you did it, provided you purposed to cause harm.
On Another Person
This legal phrase “on another person” can be the victim’s physical body, clothing, or personal space.
Penalties for Violating Assault with Caustic Chemicals Law
Violating Penal Code 244 is a California felony. The crime is punishable by the following potential penalties:
- Maximum fines of $10,000.
- Up to four years in prison.
Sometimes the judge will place the accused on felony probation for a year. However, you should pay fines and comply with conditions like:
- Meeting regularly with the probation department.
- Paying victim restitution.
- Participating in therapy.
- Performing community service.
- Adhering to your restraining order to refrain from contacting or reaching the alleged victim.
Three Strike Law
You become a two-striker if you have one previous strike on your criminal record and are then subsequently prosecuted with a felony. In this case, you will serve double the maximum sentence for violating PC 244.
You are a third striker if you have two prior convictions for violent or serious felonies and are subsequently prosecuted with a violent felony. In this case, you will serve 25 years to life imprisonment for violating PC 244.
Your criminal defense attorney should be able to collect and review evidence to develop the best legal defense to negate your criminal charge. They include the following:
You Acted in Self-Defense
Self-defense asserts that although you committed the crime, you acted to defend yourself, your asset, or another person.
However, self-defense is only a valid legal defense if you:
- Reasonably believed you were at imminent risk of suffering bodily injuries.
- Reasonably believe the immediate application of force was essential to defend against the danger.
- Did not use more force than was reasonably essential to defend against the danger.
For instance, if a person was attempting to stab you using a knife and you threw acid at them, you can urge that you were defending yourself from injury. However, if an individual attempted to punch you and pour acid on them, that does not meet the reasonableness standard regarding self-defense.
You Did Not Intend to Disfigure or Harm Another Person
One element of the crime is that you intend to disfigure or hurt the alleged victim. That means you cannot be found guilty of PC 244 if you did not have this intent.
You Did Not Act Maliciously or Willfully
The judge cannot find you guilty of PC 244 if the victim was injured in an accident. It does not matter whether the victim was severely injured or you acted with criminal negligence.
Your defense lawyer can raise mistaken identity as a defense strategy if it is unclear who placed or hurled the caustic substance. The legal expert could also urge that you lacked the proper mental conduct to break PC 244.
The Chemical Was Not Hazardous
Since Penal Code Section 244 PC only involves caustic chemicals and not any substance that can injure a person, you have a legal defense based on the nature and characteristics of the substance in your criminal case.
There are many crimes related to many California offenses. Some of them are battery and assault crimes with less severe penalties. Consequently, these crimes can be applied as plea deals, allowing defendants to:
- Spend less time in jail/prison.
- Serve time in county jail.
- Increase their chance of serving probation in place of serving time.
These crimes include the following:
Simple Battery Under PC 242
PC 242 defines battery as the infliction or use of force/violence. On the contrary, assault involves making threats or attempting to apply force/violence.
The battery crime is charged as a misdemeanor that carries the following maximum penalties:
- A six-month county jail sentence.
- $2,000 in fine.
Mayhem (PC 203) and Aggravated Mayhem (PC 205)
PC 203 defines mayhem as maliciously and illegally doing one of the actions below to somebody else:
- Removing their body part.
- Cutting or disabling the tongue.
- Injuring the eye in a way that prevents the eye from seeing.
- Disabling or disfiguring a body part in a way that goes beyond slight or temporary.
- Cutting their lip, nose, or ear.
On the contrary, aggravated mayhem (PC 205) is deliberately causing an individual a permanent disability or disfigurement of their organ or a part of a limb or organ.
While mayhem is unfamiliar to most people, like most violent crimes, it is severely charged. Mayhem is a felony; a conviction carries up to eight (8) years in California state prison and a $10,000 fine. Aggravated mayhem is a felony punishable by life imprisonment with a possibility of parole.
Assault With a Deadly Weapon (PC 245(a)(1))
Although PC 244 has been closed in relation to ADW, there are significant differences between the crimes, namely:
While PC 244 necessitates the chemical touching the victim, you can be sentenced for ADW for attempting to touch or harm another individual.
To be sentenced for ADW, you must have applied force likely to result in great bodily injuries. On the other hand, you are guilty of PC 244 even when the chemicals are not in a form or amount that could result in severe harm.
ADW is a California wobbler. The prosecution can charge you with either a misdemeanor or a felony. It depends on the following factors:
- Whether the weapon you used was a gun.
- The severity of the victim’s injuries.
- Whether the alleged victim was a California law enforcer.
If charged with a felony, you will face the same penalties as Penal Code Section 244 PC. On the contrary, a misdemeanor attracts a one-year county jail sentence and $1,000 in fines.
Battery Causing Serious Injury/Aggravated Battery
Battery causing serious injury happens when you willfully touch another person in a harmful or offensive manner, and consequently, the victim sustains severe injuries.
Violation of Penal Code Section 243d PC is a wobbler. A misdemeanor attracts one year in county jail, a $1,000 fine, and misdemeanor probation. A felony conviction involves losing your right to possess a firearm, paying a $10,000 fine, and serving a four-year jail sentence.
If the judge finds you guilty of PC 244 and places you on formal probation, they will require you to compensate the victim for economic losses resulting from the offense. The order is called restitution.
Restitution aims to make the victim whole again (restore the victim to their position before you, the defendant, committed the crime).
The law gives the victim the right to receive compensation for reasonable expenses or losses. The prosecutor cannot reduce the restitution amount during plea bargain negotiations.
Sometimes a defendant can enter into plea bargain negotiations with the prosecution, and the case is dismissed. In this case, the judge can order the accused to pay the victim restitution, provided the prosecution obtains a Harvey Waiver from the accused. After signing, the victim can receive restitution on the dismissed count.
If the alleged victim does not know the exact worth of their losses during the accused’s sentencing, the court can include provisions that the defendant will give compensation based on a figure “to be determined.” Then the amount is determined during a restitution hearing. If the alleged victim discovers more losses following their restitution order, the judge can modify the amount regardless of when they set it.
After determining the amount, your payment becomes part of your probation sentence. Depending on your circumstances, the court can either:
- Require you to pay the amount in a lump sum, or
- Create a flexible payment plan that allows you to make payments in installments.
If the alleged victim is uncomfortable with you making payments to them, they can request that you make the payment to the probation department, which will later forward the amount to them. In this case, you should pay administrative fees equal to 10% of your restitution amount.
A victim of a violent crime like PC 244 can apply directly to the California Victims Compensation Program. When they do, you should pay your victim's restitution to the program instead of the victim.
What Happens If You Fail to Make Your Restitution Payments?
If you fail to make your timely payment, the alleged victim can contact the prosecution, who will book a probation violation hearing. Failing to pay willfully can lead to the following:
- Additional penalties and incarceration.
- A probation violation.
However, you cannot be punished for failing to pay due to financial inability. The court will require you to secure a job as your probation condition.
What Occurs If Your Probation Expires While You Have Not Finished Paying Victim Restitution?
If you have not paid all your victim restitution by the end of your probation term, the judge will convert your balance into a civil judgment. You should prepare and bring your financial disclosure, which you should give to the alleged victim upon request.
How Criminal Victim Restitution Differs from a Civil Claim?
Below are the main differences between civil lawsuits and victim restitution in criminal cases:
- Victim restitution is less time-consuming than bringing a civil claim. The judge can order a victim restitution during the defendant’s sentencing. Most civil claims take months or years to close.
- In the criminal case prosecution, the alleged victim submits bills and receipts to the prosecutor, who then submits the amount to the court and defense. On the other hand, in a California civil claim, the defendant’s attorney engages the alleged victim in a deposition (cross-examination) that can last for many hours.
- In a civil claim, the victim’s lawyer will collect fees between thirty to forty percent of the recovery. Regarding criminal victim restitution, the prosecutor who helped the victim will not receive fees. The judge will include the attorney fees in the total restitution amount if the victim hires an attorney.
The Role of a Defense Lawyer in Your PC 244 Criminal Case
When facing PC 244 criminal charges, you should retain a knowledgeable and experienced lawyer. The attorney is responsible for numerous responsibilities throughout your criminal process, including:
Schedule Your Initial Consultation
The initial step for many PAsadena lawyers is meeting with the clients to know and understand their situations and concerns. Here is what to expect during your initial consultation meeting:
You Will Share Your Version of the Story
First, the attorney will explain everything confidentially to you. A client-attorney privilege protects you, and the law prohibits the lawyer from sharing whatever you tell them. Next, they will request that you tell them your story.
The attorney will be interested in what occurred and what the prosecution team says. They can stop to ask questions. They can also take notes or focus on the story and take notes later.
The legal expert will not judge you, and telling them the full story without leaving out details helps the lawyer know how to fight for your rights effectively.
The Legal Professional Will Evaluate the Criminal Case
Next, the attorney will evaluate the case to determine its strengths and weaknesses. Also, they will determine possible results based on your provided details. Possible case outcomes include the following:
- Acquittal following a trial.
- Taking a plea offer for a less severe crime or penalties.
- Persuading the prosecutor to drop the criminal charges.
After discussing the possibility of specific results, your lawyer should tell you the sentence to expect if convicted. Sentences and penalties vary based on the facts of the case.
The lawyer can also serve a discovery demand on the prosecution or engage a private investigator before evaluating your case. It is crucial because it can be challenging to assess a criminal case without knowing what proof exists against you or in your favor.
Setting Your Legal Goals
The attorney will want to understand your legal goals during your initial consultation. Please note that some goals are hard to achieve based on your case evidence and facts.
Some defendants want an acquittal at trial, while others do not want a damaged reputation and will want a quiet and favorable case resolution. A person with a weak criminal case can be glad to serve probation to avoid penalties like incarceration.
The Lawyer Will Ensure You Know the Next Step
You hired a lawyer because you did not know what steps to take. The attorney should explain the following things:
- Your constitutional rights.
- The next court hearing date.
- How to keep out of legal trouble during the case.
- The communication channels the attorney will use.
- How the lawyer will fight for you.
Assessing Your Case
The lawyer will also review the evidence, like witness statements, police reports, and surveillance videos. That way, they can identify an inconsistency or violation of due process that can work in your favor.
The lawyer will ensure the police followed all procedures appropriately and did not make a mistake when arresting you or investigating the matter. Your attorney can use proof of police misconduct or procedural errors to develop a legal defense for you.
Keeping You Updated
Throughout your California criminal judicial process, your attorney should keep you informed of the following:
- Any progress made during plea bargain negotiations or the case, and
- New developments associated with the case during court proceedings.
Assisting You During Plea Bargain Negotiations
Regarding the California criminal judicial system, most individuals appreciate that plea offers are a guaranteed method to avoid more severe consequences and penalties. Despite your innocence, accepting the deal is the more convenient end to your devastating situation. A court trial is undefined, and a conviction involves more severe penalties and lengthy sentencing.
Nevertheless, how good your plea bargain offer is will depend on who is negotiating on your behalf. While some deals are fair, others can have consequences that affect every aspect of the defendant’s life.
When you can negotiate on your own with the prosecution, your discussion should focus on the deal. Whatever you say can be used against you in court. Accidentally answering factual questions could lead to the prosecutor learning damaging evidence.
On the contrary, your attorney can ensure the prosecution engages in meaningful discussions of the law and case facts. The lawyer can also identify gaps in the prosecutor’s case and, therefore, may obtain a fair plea bargain offer or a case dismissal under the right circumstances.
Your competent defense lawyer should know different motions to increase the likelihood of prevailing at trial. Motions permit lawyers to:
- Challenge proof submitted against their clients.
- Ask witnesses questions.
- Request additional evidence or documents from the prosecutor before trial.
Representing You at Trial
Many defendants believe their lawyers’ key responsibility is representing them at trial. It involves:
- Preparing arguments and presenting them before the court.
- Cross-examining witnesses.
- Refuting the alleged victim’s or the prosecution’s claims.
- Presenting evidence.
Filing an Appeal
If you were found guilty at trial, your lawyer could appeal the verdict if an error was made during the sentencing stage.
Knowing the Law
California laws are constantly changing, and a lawyer should stay updated on how the changes can affect your case. They should also recognize that any precedents set by other cases can affect your PC 244 case. This knowledge helps them build a strong defense.
Contact a Reliable Pasadena Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me
Most people in PAsadena have had experiences getting into heated arguments but have not been charged with a crime. However, suppose your behavior crosses that line by pouring or placing a caustic chemical on the other party with the intent to injure them. In that case, law enforcers will not hold back from aggressively prosecuting you and imposing severe PC 244 penalties. Michele Ferroni Pasadena Criminal Attorney Law Firm is ready to be the relentless line of defense you require. We believe you are innocent until proven guilty and can fight for your rights from the moment we take on your criminal case. We can also analyze the facts of the case and work to get the charges dismissed or reduced.
Please book your initial consultation by contacting us at 626-628-0564.