Criminal Law

877. Assault With Caustic Chemicals

The defendant is charged [in Count ______] with (placing/ [or] throwing) caustic chemicals on someone else.

To prove that the defendant is guilty of this crime, the People must prove that:

1. The defendant willfully and maliciously (placed[,]/ threw[,]/ caused to be placed[,]/ [or] caused to be thrown) any (caustic chemical[,]/ corrosive acid[,]/ flammable substance[,]/ [or] vitriol) on someone else;


2. When the defendant acted, (he/she) intended to injure the flesh of or disfigure the other person's body(;/.)

<Give element 3 when instructing on self-defense or defense of another>


3. The defendant did not act (in self-defense/ [or] in defense of someone else).]

[A flammable substance includes gasoline, petroleum products, or flammable liquids with a flashpoint of 150 degrees Fahrenheit or less.]

Someone commits an act willfully when he or she does it willingly or on purpose.

Someone acts maliciously when he or she intentionally does a wrongful act or when he or she acts with the unlawful intent to disturb, defraud, annoy, or injure someone else.

Bench Notes

Instructional Duty

The court has a sua sponte duty to give an instruction defining the elements of the crime.

If there is sufficient evidence of self-defense or defense of another, the court has a sua sponte duty to instruct on the defense. Give bracketed element 3 and any appropriate defense instructions. (See CALCRIM Nos. 3470-3477.)


Elements. Pen. Code, § 244.

Malicious Defined. Pen. Code, § 7, subd. 4.

Willful Defined. Pen. Code, § 7, subd. 1; People v. Lara (1996) 44 Cal.App.4th 102, 107 [51 Cal.Rptr.2d 402].

Simple Assault Not a Lesser Included Offense. People v. Warren (1963) 223 Cal.App.2d 798, 801 [36 Cal.Rptr. 127].

Threat of Great Bodily Harm Not Required. People v. Day (1926) 199 Cal. 78, 85-86 [248 P. 250].

Mental State for Assault. People v. Williams (2001) 26 Cal.4th 779, 790 [111 Cal.Rptr.2d 114, 29 P.3d 197].

Secondary Sources

1 Witkin & Epstein, California Criminal Law (3d ed. 2000) Crimes Against the Person, § 53.

6 Millman, Sevilla & Tarlow, California Criminal Defense Practice, Ch. 142, Crimes Against the Person, § 142.11 (Matthew Bender).


Although Penal Code section 244 is titled "assault with caustic chemicals," this statute does not truly define an assault crime since actual contact with the other person is required.

(New January 2006)