Assault with caustic chemicals is amongst the most severe and adverse crimes of aggression due to the consequences faced by the alleged victim. Due to the growth rate of industrialization, access to high-corrosive chemicals is more accessible. So you may quickly obtain the caustic chemical and conduct a crime. When the circumstance of the crime points out clear intent, the trial of the crime is likely to attract negative consequences.
Nevertheless, you may use legal defenses to fight the charges. It would be best if you worked with experienced and top criminal defense attorneys to obtain the best outcomes for your case. At Koenig Law Office, you receive the best legal help. Our attorneys have helped numerous clients seeking legal assistance in Bakersfield, CA. In addition, we help you learn how the criminal court process works.
Elements of the Assault with Caustic Chemicals
Before you face conviction for assault with caustic chemicals, the prosecutor must prove the elements of the crime. Under Section 244 of the California Penal Code, the law outlines the elements that should be present in your case for you to face conviction. The following are the main elements of assault with caustic chemicals:
You Caused, Threw, or Placed the Chemical
The main element involves causing the alleged chemical to discharge from the storage container by forcing the chemical to escape from the storage container. One act that could demonstrate throwing or placing the caustic chemical would be when you try to swing a container to discharge the chemical.
So, the prosecutor must prove whether you tactfully threw the chemical at the victim. The prosecutor may rely on the camera footage evidence and show how you committed the illegal act occurred. In another scenario, the defendant may not be under the direct control of the chemical but influence other tools within their reach to place or throw the substance.
For instance, you are an employee in an explosive company and leave an open container with combustible material and cause it to leak on the unsuspecting victim. The prosecutor only needs to show how you exposed immediate danger to other people.
The Substance was a Caustic Chemical
The prosecution team must prove whether the substance meets the definition provided by California PC 244. The statute outlines caustic substance as a chemical that causes significant damage to the living cells of a person. The chemical causes burning damage to the skin.
If the chemical in question does not qualify as caustic, you will not be charged with the crime. If your attorney raises a dispute against the logic of the chemical in question. In that case, the attorney can ask the court to request a professional to analyze the chemical and give their opinion.
Your Actions were Wilful and Malicious
Before you face charges for the crime, your behavior and actions must be willfully and malicious, meaning you had decided to commit the crime. Usually, proving malicious acts requires the prosecution team to perform background checks and analyze your relationship with the victim.
Also, willful intent involves voluntary acts without any external influence. During the court hearing, the prosecution team links your malicious acts with voluntary work. So, the prosecutor's evidence must combine with the formulation of a malicious act and the decision to commit assault with caustic chemicals.
You Had the Intent to Inflict Greatly Bodily Injuries to the Alleged Victim
Besides proving your intent to commit the crime, the prosecution team must also show that you intended to cause significant bodily injuries to the victim. For example, when you pour the caustic substance on the victim's body, the prosecution team may claim you intend to inflict significant bodily injuries on the victim.
Your actions would also indicate your intent to cause harm to others when you throw the chemical into a strategic position. So, when the prosecutor proves your intent to harm the victim, you face the conviction for the crime.
Legal Consequences for Violating California PC 2444
In California, the crime of caustic chemicals is charged as a felony. When convicted of the crime, you pay fines and remain in jail for up to four years. Instead of the sentence of prison, the court may opt for you to serve formal probation. Not every person facing the charges for the crime is eligible for formal probation.
You require the legal help of a competent attorney to help you navigate the legal process. You will serve a maximum of 12 months in jail when sentenced to formal probation. Also, you might pay heavy fines and be subject to the following terms of the probation:
- Regular check-ins. The court will select a probation expert to monitor your progress when subjected to probation. The law requires you to avoid committing any offense during the probation period. Also, you should report to a professional expert regularly.
- Victim restitution. Restitution is the money the defendant pays to the alleged victim. Caustic chemicals are hazardous, so that they could cause irreparable injuries and damage to the victim. Therefore, the court may require you to pay the restitution fee for your probation.
- Protective order. The alleged victim may seek protective orders when you willfully and intentionally harm or injure the victim. The order ensures you do not come near the victim.
- Community service. The criminal court may require you to perform community service during probation.
The Legal Definition of Caustic Chemicals Under California PC 244
A Chemical is any substance artificially purified, prepared, or both. Caustic chemicals are substances that, through chemical actions, may corrode or burn when exposed to body tissues. Examples of these chemicals are petrol and vitriol, among other fuel products. Vitriol is corrosive since it contains sulfur acid. As per the California PC 244, petroleum products are flammable substances. The boiling point of petroleum products is low, making them highly flammable.
People depend on several caustic chemicals daily. It is crucial to understand how to use the chemicals with caution, especially at the workplace, to avoid placing the lives of others in danger. Workstations' most common caustic chemicals include chromic acid, sulfuric acid, hydrochloric acid, nitric acid, and hydrofluoric acid.
Therefore, if you depend on these chemicals daily, review their usage as outlined by OSHA to avoid facing a lawsuit against you. Diesel and gasoline are commonly used for domestic purposes.
It will help if you remain careful when handling all the chemicals grouped under caustic chemicals. The chemicals not only affect the living tissues, but when not appropriately treated, they can lead to organ damage.
How to Fight The Charge
You want to retain the services of an attorney to protect you from a wrongful conviction for assault with explosive substances. The criminal defense attorney you choose will more likely determine the potential outcomes of the case. An experienced attorney is highly recommended. Defense strategies your attorney may use for the case include:
Self-Defense or Other Peoples' Defense
When your actions aim at other people's defense or self-defense from the danger inflicted by the victim, you have a justifiable defense. You may defend yourself by arguing that you acted to protect yourself or another person. Your defense attorney may provide evidence that you were reacting to impending danger. Maybe the victim wanted to kill, wound, or touch you inappropriately.
Your attorney may also provide evidence you used corrosive chemicals to protect yourself. However, for the defense to work, you want to believe you are in impending danger reasonably. Again, you want to use reasonable force, not excessive, to protect yourself or another person from imminent danger.
In this case, the judge may view your actions as reasonable and dismiss your charges.
For instance, A person attempts to stab you with a knife, without doubt, deadly force. You may argue the legal self-defense when you throw acid on a person. You could argue you were trying to defend yourself, so you are not wounded.
Lack of Intent to Inflict Injuries to the Victim
You want to build the defense and challenge the prosecutor’s argument. Therefore, to employ the defense, you want to prove that your actions were an accident. You want to be careful as the prosecutor may argue your accident resulted from your negligent behaviors. Therefore be in a position to present supporting evidence to support your argument. Upon doing so, the court will consider dropping the charge.
Your Actions Were Not Willful
The essential element of assault with caustic chemicals is the act must be committed willfully and maliciously. You may be coerced to act for a third party and end up acting out of fear. If you did not intend to throw or put a caustic chemical on the victim’s body, you could not face conviction for the crime.
You are not guilty of the crime when you accidentally threw a caustic chemical on the victim, and no party proposed to injure the victim. When the caustic chemical results in the victim's bodily injury, you may be set free if:
- You were unaware of a caustic chemical in the surrounding where the physical conflict occurred.
- A move by the victim resulted in injuries from the caustic chemicals.
According to civic code 240, assault does not require the victim to have definite injuries for you to face conviction. Therefore, if a victim files a lawsuit against you and they did not sustain actual injuries, you may easily use the defense. You may argue that the victim falsified claims against you out of anger, revenge, or jealousy. If the prosecution's advice is light, your attorney may argue that you are falsely accused and beat the charges.
Not a Caustic Chemical
Pc 2444 only focuses on hazardous chemicals, not any other chemical which may harm someone. When you face charges for pc 244, you may defend yourself by arguing that the chemical you are accused of using is not hazardous. To use the defense, you want to have an expert witness.
The witness wants to prove the chemical composition of the substance you are facing accusation for using does not fall under the caustic chemicals. The group of caustic chemicals is defined by PPC 244. When the witness proves the chemical composition successfully, your charges may be reduced to lesser penalties.
Sometimes, the evidence of assault cases relies on the victim's testimony. Your attorney may present mistaken identity as a defense. When there is doubt regarding whoever threw the caustic chemical on the victim’s body. When using this defense, you want to establish an alibi. For example, you may have a valid alibi to show your current location when the crime occurred. Again, you may have witnesses to verify your alibi. If your Ali I is variable, you cannot face conviction for PC 244.
Crimes Charged Alongside California PC 244
Many crimes are charged alongside caustic chemicals. A few of these crimes carry less severe penalties than assault with caustic chemicals. So, the court can use these crimes to obtain a jail sentence instead of a prison sentence. Offenses related to assault with caustic chemicals include:
The California PC 240 defines assault as a threat or attempt to use force, while California PC 242 defines battery as the real infliction of harm or force. When you compare the two statutes, you notice assault is an act that may attract physical injury, while simple battery involves brutality to the victim. Simple battery is related to the caustic chemical since the flammable or caustic chemical must come in contact with the body tissues. To prove simple battery, the prosecutor must prove the following elements:
- You intentionally touch the victim in a harmful or offensive manner.
- You were not acting in self-defense or defending another person.
Penalties for Simple Assault
Like the other criminal cases, simple assault attracts penalties to the offender. The penalties could vary based on the case's nature and circumstances. The crime of simple battery is considered a misdemeanor in California. The penalties for the crime include Six years of incarceration in jail.
The Legal Defenses
Instead of facing the charges for the crime, you can avoid the conviction by developing a strong defense strategy. You may argue you were applying force to protect yourself from imminent danger. Also, you may argue:
- You are a victim of mistaken identity.
- False accusations.
California PC 240 defines assault as an attempt to harm or injure another person. Assault and assault with caustic chemicals are similar in several elements. Before you face conviction for assault, the prosecutor must prove the following elements:
- You committed the act in a manner that could result in the use of excessive force on the victim.
- Your acts were willful.
- Your acts could make a reasonable person think you would use force.
The Potential Penalties
When the prosecutor convinces the court that you are guilty of the crime, you face legal penalties. The penalties include:
- Six months jail term
The Legal Defenses
With the help of a well-skilled attorney, you can avoid the harsh penalties associated with the crime. You may use the following defenses:
- False accusation.
- Lack of actual ability to attract injuries.
- Self-defense and defense of others.
Assault with a Deadly Weapon
California PC 245(a) outlines the offense. The crime occurs when you attack another person with a lethal weapon. To face conviction for assault with a deadly weapon, the prosecutor must prove the following:
- You had a lethal weapon and not a firearm.
- You attacked the alleged victim.
- You had the intent to commit the crime.
The Legal Penalties
In California, assault with a deadly weapon is a wobbler. Therefore, the prosecutor has the discretion to file the case as either a felony or a misdemeanor. The penalties for the crime vary depending on the following situations:
- The kind of lethal weapon used to commit the crime.
- Whether the victim suffered injuries and, if yes, the seriousness of the injuries.
- Whether the offender was a police officer, a protected person, or a firefighter.
The penalties for assault using a deadly weapon carry similar penalties to the caustic chemical. The crime is considered a felony in California. The penalties are:
- Formal probation.
- 24, 36, or 48 months in prison.
When charged with a misdemeanor charge, you face the following penalties:
- Summary probation.
- 12 months jail term.
The Legal Defenses
The penalties associated with assault with a deadly weapon are harsh. With the help of a criminal defense attorney, you can beat the harsh penalties. You may apply the following defenses:
- False accusation.
- You never used a deadly weapon.
- You had no intent to commit the crime.
- You were acting in self-defense or defending another person.
Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me
Assault with the caustic chemical can attract lengthy jail terms and hefty fines as outlined under California PC 244. You can, however, avoid these harsh penalties or face a conviction for a lesser charge when you work with a competent criminal defense attorney. The attorney may develop a strong defense to ensure you obtain the best possible outcomes in your case.
Our experienced and skilled criminal defense attorneys at Koenig Law Office are ready to help you. If you seek legal help in Bakersfield, CA, do not hesitate to contact us. Contact us today at 661-793-7222, and speak with one of our aggressive criminal defense attorneys.