Throwing acid or any harmful chemical at someone is a hazardous act. Doing this can lead to severe and irreversible consequences like serious physical injuries (e.g., burns) or permanent disfiguration. To discourage the people from doing such horrible things, the state enacted California Penal Code PC 244.
California Penal Code PC 244 is the statute that criminalizes the act of assault with caustic chemicals. It says that any person who willfully and maliciously places or throws, or causes to be placed or thrown, upon the person of another, any:
- corrosive acid,
- flammable substance, or
- caustic chemical of any nature, with the intent to injure the flesh or disfigure the body of that person.
Doing so is punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for two, three, or four years.
“Caustic Chemical” is an acidic compound that burns or corrodes any body tissue due to exposure.
“Vitriol” an acidic chemical substance with metallic materials.
“Corrosive Acid” are materials that can destroy body tissues through corrosion.
“Flammable Substance” includes gasoline, petroleum products, or flammable liquids with a flashpoint of 150 degrees Fahrenheit or less.
When is one guilty of violating PC 244?
The accused can be considered guilty if his/her actions fit the following conditions:
- He/she committed the act willfully;
- He/she committed the act maliciously;
- He/she committed the act to disfigure, inflict harm or injure another person; or
- He/she is aware of the nature of the material he/she used yet proceed to use it.
- Adam tried to pull a dangerous prank on Zoe by throwing sulphury acid on her.
- Bob used corrosive chemicals to scare teenagers off his lawn; it landed on their forearms, causing severe reactions.
- Carlos intentionally spilled sink cleaning acids on the table to burn his brother's arm.
- Dianne broke a vial of vitriol on her lab partner's uniform, and the chemical burned through her skin.
Penalties for Violating PC 244
Assaulting someone using acids or any caustic chemicals is a violation of PC 653.2. This offense is a California Felony. Felonies are the most severe criminal offenses in comparison to infractions and misdemeanors. Under this law, the punishments include:
- Serving up to two (2) to four (4) years in a California state prison; and/or
- Paying a fine of up to ten thousand dollars ($10,000).
Instead of spending time in prison, if the court ever finds it reasonable, a defendant can serve his/her sentence outside of jail under formal (felony) probation. Under probation, the convicted offender can be subjected to:
- mandatory regular meetings with the probation officer;
- paying the victim restitution;
- attending civic service programs like community service or therapies; or
- staying under house arrest.
When facing PC 244 charges because of assaulting another person using caustic acids or chemicals, here are some of the most common conditions that the defendant's legal counsel frequently uses:
- The defendant was forced to commit the act;
- The defendant did not act willfully;
- The defendant did not act maliciously;
- The defendant did not intend to disfigure, inflict harm, or injure;
- The defendant was not aware of the nature of the material that he/she used; or
- The defendant committed the act out of self-defense.
The primary determining factor of guilt under this law is the purpose or intention behind the action. One has to commit such horrendous acts under willful circumstances.
Being wrongfully accused of assaulting someone using acid or any other harmful materials is a serious allegation. As a felony, it can lead to lengthy jail time due to the intensity of the crime. It can also affect one's civic and social privileges, like the chances of employment. That is why when you or anyone you know is facing any legal conflicts regarding the violation of PC 244, it would be the concerned party's best interest to consult with our top-notch California defense lawyers. They have the credentials and experience to make sure that the law serves its intended purpose.
- California Penal Code PC 240 – Assault
- California Penal Code PC 242 – Battery
- California Penal Code PC 243 – Domestic Battery
- California Penal Code PC 245 - Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon
- California Vehicle Code VC 23110 – Throwing an Object at a Motor Vehicle
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