Aggravated mayhem is a more severe form of mayhem, which is defined in California Penal Code §§ 203-205. A person may be guilty of aggravated mayhem if they unlawfully, with extreme indifference to the well-being of another, intentionally cause permanent disability or disfigurement to another, or cause the loss of an organ or limb. An example of aggravated mayhem includes holding down a victim while dismembering them, or taunting a victim and psychologically harming them after inflicting physical harm. Mayhem focuses on the effects to the victim, unlike the crime of torture which may result in a conviction when the victim did not endure pain.
Disabling injuries traditionally include a broken limb, such as a leg. When a part of someone’s body is made useless, more than temporarily, it is usually deemed disabled. If a disability continues for a material period of time, it can serve as the basis for a mayhem conviction. A slight disability may not rise to the level of mayhem, but courts have held that a victim suffering an ankle injury for six months qualifies as “sufficiently disabling” according to mayhem charges.
Disfigurement refers to permanent injuries. A victim that undergoes reconstructive surgery or “saves” their body part will still be considered to have suffered permanent injury. When the defendant burns or brands a victim, or causes blindness through throwing a toxic substance, for example, this is considered disfiguring.