It is not uncommon when a fight breaks out at a bar or some other public place for the fight participants to do whatever it takes to win. The fighters might punch one another, slap each other, kick, or hurl objects at the other, and sometimes one of the fighters might even bite the other if the fight gets up close and personal. When a fight involves biting, or some other form of harm that is capable of producing long-term disfigurement or scarring, the individual who caused the injury is often charged with the crime of mayhem, on top of being charged with other criminal offenses, such as assault and battery.
The charge of mayhem is often misapplied to criminal defendants, but it is a serious offense nonetheless. The consequences associated with a mayhem conviction are steep, which makes a strong criminal defense critically important. If you have been charged with mayhem in Massachusetts, or any other crime involving physical harm to another, you need to get into touch with an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as you are able to do so.
What is Mayhem Under Massachusetts Law?
In Massachusetts, a crime of mayhem involves the malicious maiming or disfiguring of another.
Examples of mayhem provided by the state statute include cutting out someone’s tongue, destroying someone’s eye, cutting off parts of someone’s ear, nose, or lip, or disabling a limb (for example by amputation). These examples are particularly gruesome, and leave the victim seriously scarred, deformed, crippled or disfigured.
In order to be convicted of mayhem, it must be proven that the person who is responsible for maiming or disfiguring the victim did so with malicious intent, i.e., that they meant to cause the disfiguring injury. The intent element is usually the most difficult element of the crime for state prosecutors to prove, and many mayhem criminal defenses hinge on whether the prosecution can prove the requisite malicious intent of the criminal defendant.
Oftentimes, like in the bar fight example given above, the two parties involved in the fight are caught up in the heat of the moment. The person charged with mayhem often intends to hurt the other person involved in the fight, but oftentimes lacks the malicious intent to disfigure or maim that person. Additionally, it is often the case that the person charged with mayhem was just trying to defend him or herself and got too close, or accidentally injured the victim in a way that could constitute maiming, disfigurement, or serious scarring.
If You Have Been Charged With Mayhem, Call a Criminal Defense Attorney Immediately
When criminal defendants are charged with mayhem, is it often by mistake or without real grounds to support a conviction. However, you will need a strong criminal defense attorney to fight your mayhem charges in court.