Information on the crime of assault with a caustic chemical is found at California penal code section 244 PC.
Caustic Chemical: A caustic chemical is any substance that burns or corrodes human skin on contact. Per PC 244, a caustic chemical includes corrosive acid or flammable substance, including sulfuric acid (battery acid), muriatic acid, lye, hydrochloric acid, gasoline, and more.
Note: The caustic material does not have to have an immediate burning or corrosive effect to be classified as caustic. For example, chlorine bleach and most strong household cleaning supplies and detergents are caustic substances.
Assault Required: An assault with caustic chemicals means that the assailant purposefully intended to apply the caustic chemical to the victim to injure the victim.
No Harm Required: Per PC 244, the defendant is guilty of assault by caustic chemicals when she attempts to harm the victim with the caustic substance. The crime is complete even if the caustic chemical does not touch the victim or cause injury. If the victim is injured by the defendant’s assault with caustic chemicals, then the defendant may face additional criminal charges under PC 12022.
Flammable Substance: A flammable substance means any flammable liquid with a flashpoint of 150-degree Fahrenheit or less (PC 244). Examples include gasoline, strong alcohols, WD40, turpentine, paint thinner, aerosols, and more.
Example: Jane throws alcohol at her husband during an argument. The alcohol hits Jane’s husband’s face. Jane does not know that the alcohol is flammable (or caustic), and she does not intend to cause severe harm to her husband. Result: Jane should not be charged with PC 244 because she does not know of the caustic nature of the alcohol. She also does not intend to cause harm severe harm to her husband. However, Jane may be charged with simple assault, simple battery, or even domestic violence under PC 243(e)(1) [Domestic Battery], or PC 273.5 [Inflict Corporal Injury to Spouse].
Example II: Jane throws bleach at her husband during an argument. Jane intends to cause caustic burns to her husband when she assaults him, but Jane misses her husband, and her husband is not harmed. Result: Jane may be charged with PC 244 because she intended to harm her husband with a caustic chemical. It does not matter that Jane missed her target. Jane may also be charged with domestic violence crimes because of her action.
Example III: Jane throws hot coffee at her husband during an argument. The hot coffee severely burns her husband. Result: Jane should not be charged with PC 244, because hot coffee is not flammable, and it is not a “chemical” that causes caustic burns. However, Jane may be charged with domestic battery (PC 243(e)(1)), inflict corporal injury to spouse (PC 273.5), and penalty enhancements under PC 12022.7 for Great Bodily Injury.
PC 244 Penalties
Prison Sentence: The crime of assault with caustic chemical is charged as a felony in California. If found guilty of penal code 244, the defendant may face a prison sentence of up to two, three, or four years (depending on the facts of the case and the presence of any mitigating or aggravating factors).
Probation Sentence: A probation sentence is a term of supervision, instead of a prison sentence. A probation sentence is possible in some PC 244 cases where the interest of justice calls for such a sentence. A probation sentence after a conviction for assault with caustic chemical is considered formal probation, which means the defendant is supervised by a felony probation officer.
Note: Whether the defendant receives a probation sentence, as opposed to a prison sentence, after a conviction for PC 244, depends on many factors, including the presence or absence of any mitigating or aggravating factors in the case, the defendant’s criminal history, the terms of any plea agreement with the district attorney, and more.
No Split Prison Sentence: A prison sentence after a criminal conviction of assault with caustic chemical must be served in a California state prison, and no part of that prison sentence may be served out of prison on work release or house arrest. For more information, see Penal Code 1170 Sentencing.
Firearm Restriction: A criminal conviction for PC 244 will result in the defendant losing his or her right to own or possess firearms, or firearm ammunition, for life.
Three Strike Crime: PC 244 is classified as a “serious” offense under Californian’s Three Strikes Sentencing Law. As such, PC 244 is considered a “strike” offense. For more information, see PC 1192.7 Crimes.
Other Penalties: Additional penalties and punishments that are possible after a PC 244 conviction include restraining orders (CPO), loss of immigration status, loss of professional licensing, mandatory anger management classes (some cases), civil lawsuits for injury cause to victim, restitution orders, loss of military service options, court fees and fines, and more.
PC 244 Defense
Every assault with caustic chemical case is different; therefore, the defense, or defenses, that apply to a PC 244 case is unique to the set of facts and circumstances related to the PC 244 charge. With that said, most assault type cases tend to use certain defenses, including alibi defense, self-defense, defense of others, insufficient evidence, mistake of fact, statute of limitations, coerced confession, illegal search and seizure, lack of Mirandized statement, and more.
Post-Conviction Options: After a conviction of PC 244 certain post-conviction options might apply, including withdraw of guilty plea, withdraw of no contest plea, appeal a jury trial decision, expunge the assault case, terminate probation early, remove a criminal protective order, apply for a certificate of rehabilitation, and more.
If you or a loved one is charged with a violation of California penal code section 244 PC, or assault with caustic chemical, contact our team of experienced criminal defense attorneys today. Our highly successful and award-winning criminal defense attorneys have handled hundreds of assault cases in the Inland Empire, including the cities of Rancho Cucamonga, Redlands, Fontana, Victorville, Riverside, Ontario, Rialto, Yucaipa, and more. There is no fee for first-time consultations. Call today!