Torture

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TORTURETorture

Proposition 115, an initiative adopted in 1990 in California, created the crime of Torture. Of course the act of torture has been around for some time longer, in one form or another.

To commit the crime of torture a person must inflict “great bodily injury on the person of another, with the intent to cause cruel or extreme pain and suffering to extract revenge, extortion, persuasion, or for any sadistic purpose.” 1

The crime of torture can consist of one act(s) occurring on a single occasion, or a series of acts occurring over a period of time encompassing a continuous “course of conduct.”2The requirement for “great bodily injury” simply means a significant or substantial physical injury.3

Torture

If a person dies during an act(s) amounting to a violation of the crime of torture, it is considered first-degree murder even if the other elements of first-degree murder are not present (premeditation, malice . . . etc.), instead it is included the elements of the felony-murder rule.4

The sentence for a violation of the crime of torture is life in prison.5Intentional murder involving the infliction of torture is a special circumstance punishable by death or life imprisonment without parole. 6

The crime of torture requires two facts to support its commissions,

(a) The intentional infliction of cruel or extreme pain and suffering;

(b) Done “for revenge, extortion, persuasion, or any sadistic purpose.” 7

The intent to cause extreme pain is usually inferred from the facts and circumstances surrounding the offense.8

In the following examples, the facts were found sufficient in court of appeal decisions to show that the acts committed were enough to constitute an intent to torture:

Torture

A defendant for six months repeatedly threatened his ex-girlfriend, during that time twice entered her bedroom at night as she slept and struck her in the face with a ball-peen hammer, causing facial injuries, including a split lip, multiple cracked and broken teeth, and cut under her eye.9

A defendant attacked the occupant of an apartment with a club after a forcible entry; twice choking her into unconsciousness; injuring her temple and internal organ; fracturing her cheek, ribs, and finger, which required amputation; nearly bit through her ear; bruised her breasts; and bruised and bit her back.10

Defendant, because his wife was going to divorce him, poured gasoline on her, set her on fire, and stood by while she suffered disfiguring burns.11

Defendant struck victim in the head with a golf club, cracking his skull; taunted him for 30 minutes, yelled profanities, and refused to allow him to be taken for medical help.12


1 Section 206 of the California Penal Code.

2 (People v. Hamlin (2009) 170 C.A.4th 1412, 1429, 89 C.R.3d 402.)

3 Sections 206; 12022.7 of the California Penal Code

4 Section 189 of the California Penal Code.

5 Section 206.1 of the California Penal Code.

6 Section 190.2(a)(18) of the California Penal Code.

7 Section 206 of the California Penal Code; People v. Healy (1993) 14 C.A.4th 1137, 1141, 1142, 18 C.R.2d 274

8 (People v. Quintero (2006) 135 C.A.4th 1152, 1163, 37 C.R.3d 884 People v. Burton (2006) 143 C.A.4th 447, 452, 49 C.R.3d. (People v. Hamlin (2009) 170 C.A.4th 1412, 1429, 89 C.R.3d 402.)

9 People v. Hale (1999) 75 C.A.4th 94, 105, 88 C.R.2d 904

10 People v. Pre, supra, 117 C.A.4th 419, 420, 423, 434

11 People v. Baker (2002) 98 C.A.4th 1217, 1223, 120

12 People v. Misa (2006) 140 C.A.4th 837, 843, 44 C.R.3d 805