Causing injury to someone using caustic chemicals is a criminal offense, attracting felony charges and penalties for anyone found guilty. Upon facing arrest, the prosecutor works with the investigating officers to obtain relevant facts to help them file charges against you. Assault with caustic chemicals is a type of assault crime, so you need to familiarize yourself with the general elements and scope of the accusations you face.
Upon learning of your charges, you must consult an experienced criminal defense attorney to help you navigate the criminal trial process. Their involvement is crucial to your case's outcome, and a skilled defense lawyer will significantly raise your chances of a favorable outcome.
As an accused party, you should have access to skilled defense lawyers who understand the main elements of assault charges and the criminal trial process. At Desert Defense Lawyers, you can worry less about obtaining evidence, developing counterarguments, and negotiating with the prosecutor handling your case. Our team is well equipped to help you prepare a defense for assault with caustic chemicals charges filed in Palm Desert, California.
The Nature of Assault With Caustic Chemicals
Assaulting someone using caustic chemicals is a criminal offense and violates Section 244 of the California Penal Code. The crime involves making harmful caustic chemicals come into contact with the victim by throwing or causing the chemical to be thrown.
Upon facing the arrest, the investigation team seeks out information about the type of chemical you used and the severity of the burns and injuries the victim suffered.
Parties facing assault charges face the accusation based on the indirect nature of their actions, meaning that they do not come into direct physical contact with the victim. Instead, unlike other offenses like battery, they use chemicals to create a harmful impact.
As an arrested suspect, you face felony charges that attract more serious penalties than misdemeanor charges. Due to this, the prosecutor aims to develop a solid case against you by gathering sufficient evidence to demonstrate your guilty involvement in the crime. Based on this, your criminal attorney should undertake thorough research to help you present strong defenses that introduce reasonable doubt.
Elements of Crime to Prove in Assault With Caustic Chemical Charges
Once the prosecutor takes over your case, they hold the burden of proof to demonstrate your guilt before the judge or jury. The burden of proof rests on them because they represent the alleged party and the state in prosecuting your case. Subsequently, legal principles require the alleging party to prove their case to facilitate a fair hearing.
Since the prosecutor must also adhere to the standard of proof that demands them to prove their guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, they must comprehensively present each element of the crime. You can thus expect the prosecutor to present the following elements of crime during trial:
You Acted Willfully and Maliciously
An alleged criminal offense must entail a willful and malicious action, as it forms the basis for offending others and violating the law. The prosecutor concentrates on this crime element to demonstrate your engagement in unlawful action, so you can expect them to prepare defenses supporting their arguments.
A willful action is done on purpose, meaning that you contemplated it and thought about possible outcomes before proceeding. Your ability to act willfully means that you acted out of your volition and that you calculated the potential case outcomes.
The prosecutor can prove that your action was willful based on the actions leading up to the assault. For example, if you waited for the victim to pass close to you before throwing the caustic chemical at them, it demonstrates your deliberate involvement in the crime.
Similarly, the prosecutor may argue that following the victim and throwing the caustic chemical at them and not anyone else shows that you acted willfully. The prosecution team aims to demonstrate that your actions were deliberate and, therefore, unlawful, as you were aware of the negative impact they would have on the victim.
Malice is a key component of any criminal element, as it demonstrates your intention to break the law regardless of the consequences. The prosecutor must thus also touch on the malicious nature of your actions to further establish your unlawful actions. They will likely describe an action as malicious if it involves intentionally acting wrongfully. Additionally, malice must include an unlawful intention to annoy or injure someone, violating their personhood and liberty.
Other factors the prosecutor may consider include your intention to disturb or defraud the victim by making them think they are safe in your company. If you attack them by ambush, the prosecutor may argue that you used pretense (fraud) to cause them harm.
Some evidential sources the prosecutor may rely on include correspondences you made with your accomplices or anyone else who may not be directly involved in the crime. These include texts, emails, or recorded phone calls where you admit to your intention to cause harm to the victim.
You Threw or Caused a Substance to be Thrown
Upon demonstrating the criminal intent by showing your malice, the prosecutor must show that you undertook the criminal act, resulting in your criminal action. They do this by showing that you directly threw or caused a substance to be thrown at the victim.
Throwing the substance yourself means that you had it beforehand and anticipated the victim’s proximity before pursuing the action. Further, throwing the substance ties in with your malicious intention to cause harm or disturbance, so you can expect the prosecutor to link the two arguments in their presentation.
Alternatively, your case may involve causing a substance to be thrown at the victim, meaning that you either used a third party or caused a series of events that would result in the substance landing on the victim. You are still criminally liable regardless of your indirect intervention, provided the prosecutor can demonstrate your malice and intention to cause harm or injury.
Evidential sources to support the claims include surveillance footage showing you at the crime scene, as the jury and judge can depict your actions. Moreover, surveillance footage can demonstrate all your actions in preparation for your case, making it easier for the prosecutor to persuade the court of your guilt.
Other evidentiary sources include witness testimonies from parties present during the attack. Their narrative should depict your deliberate efforts to throw caustic chemicals on the victim, making them vulnerable to serious injuries. At this stage, your criminal defense attorney can counter the witness testimonies to gauge their validity, so you can expect your defense team to remain alert through the prosecution witness’ testimony hearing.
Police records and statements from the victim can also benefit the prosecutor’s case as evidence, as they provide details on the specific course of the events you engaged in. The prosecutor's argument may be successful if the reports and statements further corroborate the witness statements and surveillance footage. Nevertheless, you can challenge their position during the defense hearing.
The Substance You Threw was a Caustic Chemical or Highly Flammable
After demonstrating that you engaged in an unlawful activity and threw a substance on the victim, the prosecutor should show that the specific substance was harmful. To do this, they must provide evidence that the substance in question was a caustic chemical or a flammable liquid.
Establishing the nature of the liquid is essential because it is central to the criminal accusation. Due to this, the prosecutor works closely with the investigation officers to show that you obtained, purchased, or possessed the harmful substance as you awaited its use.
Caustic chemicals are harmful substances capable of corroding human skin and causing tissue injuries. They include sulfuric acid and other chemical mixtures that cause burns or abrasions on the victim upon contact. Since they produce a burning effect, they may cause disfigurement upon contact with the victim’s face. Consequently, they create detrimental outcomes that may significantly alter the affected person’s life.
Alternatively, you may face the same charges for throwing a highly flammable substance, as it creates the same harmful effect on the victim’s skin. The checkpoint for a flammable substance is any liquid capable of evaporation at a temperature of 150 Degrees Fahrenheit or less. The low evaporation point makes it easy to ignite the liquid, making it a safety hazard when in direct contact with someone’s skin.
You Targeted a Specific Victim to Cause Harm
You can expect the prosecutor to present your deliberate target against one victim to cause harm. To do this, they must demonstrate that you did not just throw caustic chemicals at random people but also targeted a specific person.
The prosecutor should also contextualize their argument by showing that you most likely had an unlawful motive to harm the victim. They should present facts or admitted utterances showing that you targeted the victim for a reason and that your actions were not accidental.
Some evidential sources to support the prosecutor’s claims include surveillance footage that shows you waiting for the targeted person to come closer before throwing the harmful chemicals at them. Further, the prosecutor can retrieve any exchanges you had with a third party detailing your intention to harm the specific victim and not any random person. The prosecutor will likely link this element of crime to your malice and willful action to strengthen their case.
Defenses for Committing Assault with Caustic Chemicals
After the prosecutor concludes their case, you can counter their arguments by raising defenses. Your goal should be to create reasonable doubt around the prosecutor’s case and introduce a different perspective when arguing the facts. By doing this, you diversify the jury’s angle of thinking and analysis, making it more likely for them to consider your side of events.
Defenses should reduce or remove any prejudices the prosecutor may build against you, so you must prepare adequately. With your criminal attorney’s help, you can pick out the most suitable arguments to support your case and create a pivotal effect on the trial.
Some defenses to consider include:
You Did Not Act knowingly or Maliciously
While the prosecutor may argue that you acted willfully and out of malice, you can counter their argument by presenting a different perspective on the events leading up to the crime. The defense works well if you strongly believe you are facing unfair accusations or accusations based on poor research or hearsay.
You can build your argument by stating that the assault was accidental, meaning that you did not anticipate the victim being in your way and that the substances would harm them. For example, if you were transporting the caustic chemicals when you tripped and tipped the contents onto the victim, you can present the argument to justify your position.
Similarly, the defense works well if you acted impulsively and did not intend to harm the victim out of malice. Working under duress means a third party has influenced you by issuing threats against your safety and forcing you to comply with their demands.
While the argument is acceptable in court, you must support it with solid evidence, including the perpetrator's identity. You should also demonstrate that you reasonably believed you were in danger, forcing you to accept the orders out of reasonable fear for your safety.
If you intend to rely on coercion as your justification for causing harm to the victim, it will only be acceptable if the perpetrator issues direct threats to your safety. Making threats to harm other parties is insufficient to justify your actions, so you should re-evaluate your argument to ensure it aligns with the court’s standards.
You Acted in Self-Defense
Violent actions are justified, provided you engage in self-defense. The court is willing to accept your argument because they expect you to stay safe by all means necessary.
However, using self-defense to counter the prosecutor’s accusations has limits to ensuring you do not abuse your liberty to protect yourself. Therefore, You must ensure your defense meets all requirements before presenting it to avoid rejection.
Among the primary requirements for the defense to pass is to demonstrate that you were in reasonable danger. The genuine belief that you need to protect yourself can be derived from the circumstances you find yourself in and your inability to escape by maneuvering around the perpetrator.
Additionally, you must show that you lacked an alternative to violent action, meaning you had no escape route to flee the danger. Violent actions in self-defense should be a last resort, making it important to demonstrate that you assessed all other options and failed to find a suitable alternative.
Your self-defense argument should also demonstrate that you used force proportionate to the danger you faced. Using excessive force against the perpetrator is unacceptable, as it demonstrates that you took advantage of the situation to hurt the perpetrator more than necessary.
You can receive a positive case outcome if you have sufficient evidence to demonstrate all these elements. This calls for thorough research by your criminal attorney to help you check all the facts and ascertain that the defense is acceptable.
You Face False Accusations
Police misconduct, like corruption between the alleged victim and investigation officers, can result in false accusations, forcing you to face false accusations. You can revoke the prosecutor’s arguments by presenting an alibi to show that you are not linked to the unlawful actions.
When raising this defense, you should present evidence to show that you did not participate in throwing harmful chemicals. Instead, your evidence should verify that you were in a different location undertaking separate activities, disproving the prosecutor’s argument.
Penalties for Committing Assault With Caustic Chemicals
The judge schedules a sentencing hearing if the jury finds you guilty of assaulting a victim using caustic chemicals. The primary objective of the hearing is to read to you the penalties that the judge has decided to issue against you based on your particular circumstances.
Since the crime is a felony, you may face a sentence of two, three, or four years in state prison. The judge may also impose a fine payment order of up to $10,000 along with the jail sentence or as an alternative to imprisonment.
Some judges may also issue probation sentences instead of jail or fine orders. Under formal probation, you must complete the terms to avoid facing a probation revocation and possible reinstatement of jail orders. Some commonly used terms include:
- Attending group therapy.
- Meeting with your probation officer regularly.
- Paying victim restitution.
- Performing community service.
Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me
When you or a loved one faces an assault with a caustic chemical charge, you risk facing felony charges if convicted. You, therefore, need to learn more about the offense and understand the main elements of the crime for the prosecutor to prove in preparation for trial. Since the charge is an assault crime, you should also familiarize yourself with the technical elements that distinguish it from similar offenses to clarify your case. Whether you are a first-time or repeat offender, working with a criminal defense attorney is highly advisable to help you navigate your case. Your defense lawyer should also help you develop workable strategies to present solid defenses in your case.
At Desert Defense Lawyers, you have access to experienced attorneys who have helped hundreds of clients facing assault with caustic chemicals charges receive favorable outcomes. Thanks to our experience, we understand the key elements and points to consider when your case proceeds to a hearing. Our input can also help you make persuasive arguments that cast reasonable doubt on the prosecutor’s presentation, giving you a better chance of a successful outcome. We are available for consultation for anyone facing accusations of assault with caustic chemicals in Palm Desert, California. For more information on how to fight the charges, call us today at 888-293-0396.