Torture Law in California – Penal Code 206 PC
Torture in California is defined under Penal Code 206 PC as intentionally inflicting great bodily injury on somebody to cause extreme pain and suffering for revenge, extortion, or a sadistic purpose.
Torture is related to the crime of Penal Code 203 mayhem, but the main difference is the motivation behind the crime. For example, PC 206 torture is motivated “for the purpose of revenge, extortion, or persuasion.”
In other words, you can't be convicted under this law if there is no motive or intent to cause severe pain and suffering. Torture charges are not common, but they do occur.
For instance, torture could occur in a robbery situation. Perhaps the victim gave the perpetrator all their money as the robber demanded, but they were angry that the victim did not have more cash. Thus, the robber starts striking the victim repeatedly with their weapon.
In this example, the robber could face Penal Code 206 PC torture charges and the underlying Penal Code 211 robbery crime. Torture is always filed as a felony offense. Our California criminal defense lawyers will examine this topic in greater detail below.
What is the Definition of PC 206 Torture?
As noted, torture is defined under Penal Code 206 PC as follows:
- "Anyone intending to cause cruel or extreme pain and suffering for revenge, extortion, persuasion, or any sadistic purpose inflicts great bodily injury defined under Section 12022.7 upon a person of another is guilty of torture."
Torture is the more severe form of assault that adds additional elements to the crime and consists of three parts:
- The perpetrator must inflict great bodily harm on someone else, which is defined by Penal Code 12022.7 PC as a significant injury;
- Defendant must have the intent to cause cruel or extreme pain and suffering; and
- They must have acted to exact revenge, forcing somebody to do or agree to something, extortion, or any sadistic reason.
Of particular notice, victims aren't required to prove that they suffered any pain for a perpetrator to be convicted of torture under the law.
Torture could occur as a single act or through a course of behavior. Extortion is generally described as acquiring someone's property with their consent obtained using force. A sadistic reason is someone inflicting pain on another to pleasure themselves.
The felony crime of torture carries harsh penalties that include a sentence of up to life in prison and a fine of up to $10,000, but judges have broad discretion in imposing a sentence. Further, a torture conviction could be a “strike” under California's three-strike law.
What Are Other Crimes Related to Torture?
The crimes that are associated with torture are listed within the California Penal Code as follows:
Mayhem under Penal Code 203 PC is described as any of the following acts with malice:
- Depriving someone of the use of a body member, such as an arm;
- Disabling or disfiguring a member of someone's body;
- Cutting someone's tongue;
- Putting out their eye or cutting someone's face.
If convicted of mayhem, you could be sentenced to two, four, or eight years, with a fine of up to $10,000.
Aggravated mayhem under Penal Code 205 PC can be charged if the perpetrator intentionally caused somebody a permanent disability or disfigurement.
PC 205 can also be filed when a perpetrator deprives a victim of their limb, member, or organ. If convicted under this statute, you could be sentenced to life in prison with the chance of parole.
Aggravated battery under Penal Code 243d is a wobbler that can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the circumstances.
You could be found guilty of aggravated battery if you commit a battery that causes a severe bodily injury described as harmful or offensive touching of another person.
Corporal injury on a spouse under Penal Code 273.5 PC is related to domestic violence. If you cause any injury to a spouse or intimate partner, either minor or severe, you could face charges under this statute, which is also a wobbler.
The Torture Act under 18 U.S.C. 2340 is a federal law that can be filed under certain situations when the crime occurred outside the United States.
You could face up to 20 years in the Federal Bureau of Prisons if convicted. If somebody was killed, you could receive a sentence of life in prison or the death penalty.
What Are the Possible Legal Defenses?
There are some legal defenses to a torture charge, depending on the details of the case. A crucial element of the crime that must be proven is intent. In other words, the prosecutor must show that you acted purposefully.
Perhaps we can argue that you did not intend to cause cruel or extreme pain.
Recall from the legal definition of torture that you must have been motivated to cause cruel or extreme pain and inflict great bodily injury.
Perhaps we can cast reasonable doubt by showing a lack of motivation; your chances should increase for a favorable outcome.
Perhaps we can argue that you were not in the right state of mind to form criminal intent and use legal insanity as a defense.
Perhaps we can argue that you were acting in self-defense if we can show that you were protecting yourself from imminent harm and forced to take action.
Cron, Israels & Stark is located in Los Angeles, California. We offer a free case evaluation by phone or use the contact form.