Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Feb 26, 2020

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The crime of mayhem refers to serious assaults on an individuals that leave a lasting physical impact.  The definition of mayhem makes a crime any serious infliction of injury to a victim’s body part in way that removes it or renders it useless.

Definition of Mayhem – Specifics

In the United States, most state laws have incorporated the definition of mayhem into the crimes of assault and battery. However, some state statutes still define mayhem in their criminal codes as a separate offense. In California, for example, every person who maliciously deprives another human being of a body part, or renders it useless,or cuts out an eye or the tongue, or slits the nose or a lip, is guilty of mayhem. Additionally, if the person commits the act under circumstances exhibiting an extreme indifference to the physical or psychological well being of the victim, he is guilty of aggravated mayhem. For the offender to be convicted, the injury must be permanent and not a temporary loss.

Under California law, a person convicted of mayhem can receive a sentence of two, four or eight years in prison, depending on the nature and circumstances of the offense. Additionally, a person convicted of aggravated mayhem – a felony – can receive a sentence of up to life in prison with the possibility of parole. In Massachusetts, a person convicted of mayhem can receive up to twenty years in prison.

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Mayhem is a serious crime that has tremendous consequences to anyone convicted of it. If you have been charged with mayhem, you should consult immediately with a competent criminal defense lawyer in your area.