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Penal Code 203 PC Simple and Aggravated Mayhem

Mar 5, 2019 | Mayhem

Under California Penal Code Section 203 PC mayhem is defined as the act of maliciously an illegally depriving  person of a member of his body; disabling, or rendering useless a member of his body; disabling or cutting his tongue;  putting out his eye; slitting his nose, ear or lip.

Penal Code Section 203 PC Aggravated Mayhem

Under California Penal Code Section 205 aggravated mayhem is defined as intentional causing another person a permanent disfigurement or disability, or depriving him of a limb, organ or member.

California Criminal Jury Instruction No. 801

California’s Criminal Jury Instructions No. 801 indicates the following additional stipulations on how a person can be found guilty of mayhem:

  • Body part disablement must be more than temporary or slight; it must be so egregious as to significantly interfere with person’s life.
  • Eye injury must so significantly reduce the person’s ability to see such that it is useless for ordinary sight.
  • Disfigurement must be permanent 
  • At the time of the act the victim must be alive. In case the victim dies, a more severe charge of murder can be brought.

To Be Convicted of Aggravated Mayhem Penal Code 203 PC Prosecutor Must Prove The Following

To convict a defendant of aggravated mayhem, the prosecutor must establish the following elements:

  • Defendant illegally and maliciously disabled or permanently disfigured another person
  • Defendant acted with the intent to disable or permanently disfigure
  • Defendant’s act showed extreme indifference to the psychological or physical condition of another person

Difference Between Mayhem and Aggravated Mayhem

In aggravated mayhem case the prosecution must prove that the defendant had the specific intent to disfigure or dismember or a person. For proving an ordinary mayhem, the prosecutor only needs to prove that the defendant committed an act maliciously and that resulted in disfigurement or dismemberment but the defendant didn’t have intent to disfigure or dismember that person.


Under California Penal Code 203 action acting maliciously means committing an illegal act with intent to annoy or injure someone else

Permanent Disfigurement

According to California mayhem law, a disfiguring injury can be considered permanent even if it can be repaired by medical procedures.

Penalties for PC 203 Simple Mayhem and PC 205 Aggravated Mayhem

In California law both types of mayhem are considered felonies

Penalties for California Penal Code Section 203 Simple Mayhem

Penalties for California Penal Code Section 203 Simple Mayhem include:

  • Two, four or eight years in California state prison;
  • A fine of up to $10,000
  • Felony probation

If the defendant knew or reasonably should have known that one of the below mentioned facts about the victim was true he will receive 1 or 2 year sentence enhancement: 

  • The victim was sixty five years or older
  • The victim was under the age of fourteen
  • The victim was deaf or blind 
  • The victim was developmentally disabled or paraplegic or quadriplegic

Penalties for California Penal Code Section 205 Aggravated Mayhem

Penalties for California Penal Code Section 205 aggravated mayhem include:

  • A fine of up to $10,000
  • A life sentence in state prison

In some mayhem or aggravated cases a probation sentence can be available and can include some actual jail time (not prison), work release or house arrest along with other probation terms.

Does Mayhem and Aggravated Mayhem Fall Under California Three Strike Sentencing Law?

Both mayhem and aggravated mayhem are considered violent and serious crimes under California Three Strikes Sentencing Law. The defendant will be convicted of a strike offense and suffer additional punishments such as:

  • While in being in prison he will earn less good time credits  
  • He may suffer harsher punishment for future criminal convictions
  • Be ineligible for early release