Aggravated Mayhem

Facing an aggravated mayhem offense should be taken seriously, as it carries felony consequences. A conviction could lead to life-long imprisonment. It is highly recommended you contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as you can. An expert defense lawyer can help fight on your behalf to get the best possible outcome.

To gain a more critical understanding of what this law entails, let’s first take a look at how California defines aggravated mayhem.

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Defining Aggravated Mayhem

California outlines what aggravated mayhem is under Penal Code 205. This law states it is a crime to intentionally cause lasting disability or permanent disfigurement of another person; or to cause the removal and loss of another person’s organ(s), limb(s), or bodily member.

  • More specifically, PC 205 is defined as;
    • You commit this crime if you intentionally, unlawfully, and with malice,
      • Intent means that you acted on purpose.
      • You acted maliciously and without lawful justification.
    • Cause a permanent disability or disfigurement of another person, or
      • A lasting scar or life-long limp are examples of disfigurement or disability.
      • A scar can include such things as a burn or brand as well as an unwanted tattoo, or scars resulting from cuts or whips.
      • You were intending to cause these specific types of injuries.
    • Deprive or cause the loss of another person’s bodily member(s), organ(s), or limb(s), and
      • Depriving someone of their inner or outer bodily parts means you helped to remove said body part.
      • For instance, cutting off another individual’s finger, slicing off their ear, or removing a kidney.
    • Your actions showed extreme indifference to the mental (psychological) and physical well-being of the individual.
      • An extreme indifference is defined as total apathy toward the other person’s safety or well-being.
      • Causing them permanent or long-term mental distress is considered psychological trauma.

Threatening someone’s well-being does not have to mean the defendant intended to kill them. The prosecution does not have to prove an intent to kill. The intent to cause such egregious mental and physical trauma to another person is enough to face this charge.

Closest Related Offense

California PC 203, mayhem;

Also known as simple mayhem, you commit this crime if you acted with unlawful intent in disabling, disfiguring, or depriving another person of a body part. This includes cutting or disabling a tongue, putting out an eye, or slitting their ear, lip, or nose.

What is the difference between simple mayhem and aggravated mayhem?

Simple mayhem means the defendant acted with unlawful intent. Aggravated mayhem means they acted with unlawful intent AND intentionally meant to cause a specific injury to the alleged victim.


Bill intended to hurt Allen by punching him multiple times. One of the strikes resulted in permanent blindness of Allens’ right eye. Bill unlawfully intended to seriously injure Allen but did not know what type of injury his actions would result in. He could be charged with simple mayhem under PC 203.

If Bill specifically intended to cause Allen to suffer permanent eye damage or blindness, the case would rise to aggravated mayhem, PC 205.

Both simple and aggravated mayhem carry felony consequences. Although both require intent, only aggravated mayhem requires the intent to cause a particular type of injury. One that would result in permanent disability, disfigurement, or deprivation of a body part.

Similar Offenses

The following are related charges that are often associated with a PC 205 offense. If you are facing charges for a violent crime such as aggravated mayhem, it is entirely likely you could face additional offenses.

California PC 242, battery;

This is the crime of willfully and unlawfully using physical force or violence on another person.

California PC 243(d), aggravated battery;

This crime is committed if you use physical force in a harmful or offensive manner on an individual, causing this person to suffer a serious bodily injury.

California PC 245(a)(1), assault with a deadly weapon (AWD);

Attacking or attempting to attack another person with a deadly weapon is covered under this law. This does not include a firearm, which is covered under PC 417, brandishing a firearm or deadly weapon.

California PC 273.5, corporal injury on an intimate partner;

Inflicting corporal physical injury on a current or former dating partner, co-parent, spouse, or cohabitant is a crime covered under this statute.

California PC 206, torture;

You commit this crime if you inflict great bodily injury on another individual, intending to cause them cruel or extreme pain and suffering for the purposes of extortion, out of revenge, or for any sadistic reason.

California PC 261, rape;

Using physical force or threatening to use force or fraud as a means of making another person have non-consensual sexual intercourse is a felonious crime.

California PC 187, murder;

You commit murder if you maliciously and unlawfully kill another human being.

The Prosecution

There are specific facts of the case the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt to get a conviction for PC 205, aggravated mayhem. These factors are known as the:

Elements of the Crime

  • The defendant acted unlawfully, with malice and intent,
  • To permanently disable or disfigure another individual, OR
  • To deprive the individual of an organ, limb, or other body parts, AND
  • Their actions showed extreme indifference to the individuals’ psychological or physical well-being.

For a conviction, the prosecution must prove the defendant acted with the intention of inflicting serious injury on another person. The types of serious injuries that would cause permanent disfigurement or disability include forcibly removing someone’s eye or slashing their face.

Who Can Be Charged

The following situations will give you a better idea of who can face charges for aggravated mayhem.

Example 1:

Leon instigates a fist-fight with his ex-wife’s new boyfriend, Blaine. During their struggle, Leon pulls out a pair of illegal, spiked brass knuckles. He strikes and slashes at Blaine multiple times in the face and chest, causing deep, serious wounds that require medical attention.

Blaine is left with permanent scars on his face and chest from the attack. Leon could face charges for aggravated mayhem under PC 205. He also antagonized Blaine into getting into a fight which means he could face additional charges for PC 415, disturbing the peace. The possession of illegal brass knuckles would also result in a PC 21810 offense.

Example 2:

Rick is part of a fraternity and wants to know what it’s like to use his new whip on someone. As part of a hazing ritual, he convinces his fraternity brothers to allow him to use it on the recruits. They assist him in tying Carlo down and removing his shirt. When Carlo notices the whip he refuses to participate and asks to be set free. Rick ignores Carlo’s wishes and lashes his back three times before his fraternity brothers stop him.

Carlo is left with permanent scars across his shoulders and back. Rick would face a PC 205 charge for aggravated mayhem. His fraternity brothers could also face some accountability for their involvement.

Example 3:

Shelly finds out her husband, Don is cheating on her. In a jealous rage, she waits until he falls asleep and restrains him. Then she placed his right hand in a bucket filled with dry ice. It takes several minutes before he wakes up screaming, unable to get free.

The freezing temperatures caused partial frostbite, resulting in his pinky and ring finger needing to be amputated. Shelly will face charges for aggravated mayhem under PC 205.

Example 4:

Mike bragged to his new girlfriend, Simone, about all the exes that have his name tattooed on them. Simone expresses her dismay of tattoos and admits she never wants one. Mike attempts to convince her to get a tattoo to no avail. He slips a mixture of melatonin and a sleep aid into her tea. Once she fell asleep, he restrained her and tattooed his name on her forearm.

Mike will face charges for aggravated mayhem for tattooing Simone against her will. His actions of drugging and restraining her to commit this act shows his malicious intent to permanently scar her with the unwanted tattoo.

If you or someone you care about can relate to any of these cases, get the help of an expert criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. 

Legal Defense

The right criminal defense attorney could help you challenge these allegations. An experienced defense lawyer will be familiar with the common legal defenses used to fight these charges. They may be able to help get the charges reduced or possibly dropped. Here are some examples of legal defenses that have been used to dispute a PC 205 charge.

Did the defendant lack intent? Were they indifferent?

To be convicted of aggravated mayhem, the prosecution must prove that you acted with indifference and intent. If you lacked intent or were not indifferent to the alleged victims’ safety, you should not be guilty of PC 205. For instance, acting in self-defense means you were concerned with your safety and had to use physical force to protect your life.

Macy, for example, was walking home from work and noticed a strange man was following her. She carried a pocket knife in her purse and immediately hid it up her sleeve. Scared for her safety, but more afraid he would follow her into the building, she decided to confront. With a menacing grin, he stepped in and placed his hands around her neck. Panicked, she screamed, slipped out the pocket knife, and slashed at his face several times before getting free and running into her apartment building. The man screamed and the neighbors called the police. Macy was arrested for aggravated mayhem, as the man was left with scars across his face.

Fortunately, Macy’s defense lawyer was able to obtain video evidence from street cameras, showing the man was indeed following her home. The apartment building also had a surveillance camera, corroborating Macy’s description of the events. The man had placed his hands around her neck. Her reaction to getting choked was one of self-defense and the charges were dropped.

Did the injuries cause permanent disability or disfigurement?

If there is no permanent disability or disfigurement of the alleged victim then the crime does not rise to the level of aggravated mayhem.

For instance, Antoine was accused of PC 205 for throwing a baseball at another person’s face, causing them a swollen and bruised eye. These are temporary wounds and will eventually heal. No fractures or detachment of the retina occurred, which means there was no permanent damage. If it does not leave a permanent disfigurement, it is not considered aggravated mayhem. 

Were there extenuating circumstances regarding the act?

Unfortunately, there are situations where someone can be forced into committing a violent act against their will. If you were coerced into attacking another person, certain details must apply. To commit a crime against one’s’ will means you were being physically forced to act or were under the immediate threat of violence.

For example, Terry and Jay planned on robbing the local bar down the street. Jay never used weapons when committing acts of theft and expected the same from Terry. However, when they entered the bar at closing time, Terry pulled out a gun and held the bartender at gunpoint. He ordered the bartender to clear out the register. Jay was vocal in his dismay, stating “Terry, put the gun away. I didn’t agree to armed robbery.” Terry ignored him, keeping his aim on the bartender.

A waitress came out of the office, screamed, and began crying uncontrollably. Perturbed, Terry yelled at her to shut up. Jay said, “she’s just scared man. Back off.” Terry then pulled out a second gun and pointed it at Jay. He ordered his partner to tie the waitress up. She could not stop crying. Terry said, “knock her out or I will.” Afraid he would hurt her worse, Jay apologized before punching her hard enough that she blacked out. Then Terry forced the bartender to clean out the safe in the office.

Terry will face charges for felony robbery under PC 211. He also enhanced penalties under PC 12022.53 for the use of firearms to commit a robbery. He could face multiple counts because there was more than one victim. Jay is guilty of robbery under PC 211 and will face those charges. The waitress had suffered a black eye with a cut along her eyebrow. Jay was facing an aggravated mayhem charge for the blow to the waitress that resulted in a permanent scar.

However, Jay’s defense lawyer was able to get the first-hand accounts of both victims. The bartender supported Jay’s story, stating he objected to his partner’s use of guns. The waitress and the bartender heard Jay apologize before hitting the waitress. They claimed Jay was coerced because he was also being held at gunpoint by Terry.

Remember, to be guilty of aggravated mayhem the defendant must have maliciously intended to permanently disfigure someone and do so with extreme indifference to that person’s well-being. The fact that Jay did not want to hurt the waitress nor use any weapons suggested he lacked that element. In addition to lacking the gross disregard for the victim’s safety, the permanent scar was arguably concealed beneath her eyebrow. Yes, she may have a lasting scar, however, it was an isolated wound that is barely noticeable. Jay’s behavior does not meet the elements of the crime required for an aggravated mayhem conviction.

Penalties for PC 205, aggravated mayhem

This crime is considered a horrible and violent act, regardless of the context. Permanent disfigurement or loss of a limb will have a profound physical and psychological effect on the victim. Not to mention the financial impact the victim will most likely have.

There is no infraction or misdemeanor punishment. If convicted of aggravated mayhem, you will face felony consequences.


A life sentence in state prison with the possibility of parole.

Enhanced Penalties

The possibility of parole will be jeopardized in cases where the defendant faces multiple convictions. For instance:

  • More than one victim was permanently disfigured or disabled,
  • Other felonies were committed in addition to aggravated mayhem, OR
  • The intent to murder the alleged victim comes to light.

Penalties for Related Offenses

California PC 203, mayhem;


A state prison sentence of 2, 4, or 8 years, and

Fines of up to ten thousand dollars.

California PC 242, battery;


Summary (informal) probation,

Up to six months in county jail; and/or

Fines of up to two thousand dollars.

California PC 243(d), aggravated battery;


As long as one year in county jail, and/or

Fines of up to one thousand dollars


2, 3, or 4 years in county jail, and/or

Up to ten thousand dollars in fines.

California PC 245(a)(1), assault with a deadly weapon;


Informal (misdemeanor) probation,

A county jail sentence of up to one year, and/or

Fines as high as one thousand dollars.


Formal (felony) probation,

A state prison sentence of up to four years, and/or

Maximum fines of ten thousand dollars.

California PC 273.5, corporal injury on an intimate partner;


A possible county jail sentence of one year, and/or

A potential six thousand dollar fine.


A state prison sentence of 2, 3, or 4 years, and/or

Fines as high as six thousand dollars.

California PC 206, torture;


A life sentence in state prison, and

A fine of up to ten thousand dollars.

California PC 261, rape;


A state prison sentence of up to eight years, and/or

Felony (formal) probation, and

Lifetime registration as a sex offender.

California PC 187, murder;

Felony (1st-degree murder);

Twenty-five years to life in California state prison.

Felony (Capital Murder);

Life in prison without the possibility of parole, or

The death penalty by a lethal dose of gas or intravenous injection of a lethal chemical substance. (Currently under a temporary moratorium effective March 12, 2019)

Felony (2nd-degree murder);

20 years to life in state prison,

25 years to life in state prison, or

Life without the possibility of parole.

We Can Help

Charges that carry felony consequences should not be taken lightly. If you or someone you care about is facing an aggravated mayhem charge or a similar offense and are located in San Diego, Los Angeles, or Orange County contact the Law Offices of Anna R. Yum.

Attorney Yum understands what is at stake and will aggressively fight to preserve your rights and your freedom. As a former prosecutor and award-winning defense lawyer, she is familiar with how vigorously the prosecution will pursue a conviction.

To schedule a no-obligation, free consultation give us a call at 619-233-4433. You can also use our online contact form. Don’t hesitate to ask for help. As soon as you are accused of this offense, get an experienced criminal defense lawyer who knows how to protect your rights.