While when most think of the word mayhem an image of disorder and unrest comes to mind, such as an angry mob of citizens, the criminal definition in mayhem is quite different. As defined by Massachusetts law, mayhem is the act of maiming or disfiguring with malicious intent to do so, which is far from the definition of mayhem we generally think of. The law goes further than simply defining mayhem, and creates a list of specific instances that will always qualify as mayhem. The law explicitly mentions destroying the eye, cutting off or tearing an ear, slitting or mutilating the nose or lip, or cutting of or disabling a limb. The law also includes any actions falling into the category of maiming that are done with a dangerous weapon, a chemical substance, or through an assault.

The mayhem law in Massachusetts encompasses a number of offenses, making the elements of mayhem vary depending on the situation. In its most basic form, mayhem has three elements. First, the prosecutor must show beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant had malicious intent. Second, the prosecutor must prove that the defendant had the intent to maim or disfigure. This element means that mayhem is a specific intent crime. The courts define maiming as mutilating or inflicting injury upon a person which deprives him of the use of any limb. Finally, the prosecutor must show that a maiming or disfiguring action occurred, more specifically that the defendant maimed the tongue, eye, ear, nose, lip, or limb. In addition, the law covers those that aid in the commission of mayhem. Another crime included in the statute is maiming through assault. In order to convict a defendant of this crime, the prosecutor must show four elements. First, the prosecutor must show that the defendant had the intent to maim or disfigure. Second, the prosecutor must show that the defendant assaulted the victim. Third, the prosecutor must prove that the assault occurred with the use of a dangerous weapon, substance, or chemical. Finally, the prosecution must show that the victim was disfigured by the assault or that the assault caused permanent physical injury.

The sentencing for maiming depends heavily on the criminal record of the defendant. While all defendants are subject to a $1,000 fine, the prison sentencing can range from five years to twenty years. For those with no criminal record, the sentencing guidelines suggest five to seven and one half years. For those with a moderate criminal record, the typical sentence is five and two thirds years to eight and one half years. For those with a more serious record, or a repetitive history of violent actions, the sentence ranges from seven years to thirteen and one half years. Finally, for those offenders with a serious violent record, the sentence is thirteen years to twenty years.

Mayhem Lawyers at Altman & Altman, LLP

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