Massachusetts G.L. c. 265, § 14: Mayhem; punishment

Under Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 265, section 14, it is a crime to (or attempt to) maim or dismember another person. To convict a defendant of the offense of mayhem, the Commonwealth must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant committed at least one of the following acts:

(1) The defendant, acting with malicious intent to maim or disfigure, cut out or maimed the victim’s tongue, put out or destroyed the victim’s eye, cut out or tore off the victim’s ear, cut or slit or mutilated the victim’s nose or lip, or cut off or disabled the victim’s limb or member;

(2) The defendant knew of another person’s malicious intent to maim or disfigure, and aided in that person’s maiming or disfiguring of the victim;

(3) The defendant was present at the time of the maiming or disfiguring act, and aided in another person’s maiming or disfiguring of the victim;

(4) The defendant, acting with intent to maim or disfigure, assaulted the victim with a dangerous weapon, substance, or chemical, and in doing so, the defendant in fact disfigured, crippled, or inflicted serious or permanent physical injury upon the victim;

(5) The defendant knew of another person’s intent to maim or disfigure, and aided that person in assaulting the victim with a dangerous weapon, substance, or chemical, in which that person disfigures, cripples, or inflicts serious or permanent physical injury upon the victim; or

(6) The defendant is present at the time, and aided another person in assaulting the victim with a dangerous weapon, substance, or chemical, in which that person disfigures, cripples, or inflicts serious or permanent physical injury upon the victim.

Thus, under the statute, three persons may be convicted of mayhem: any person who actually committed the maiming or disfiguring act, any person who knew of the actor’s intent and assisted in the actor in carrying out the crime, and any person who was present at the scene of the act, and assisted the actor in carrying out the crime.

Related Offenses
  • G.L. c. 265, § 15 (assault; intent to murder or maim)
  • G.L. c. 265, § 15A (assault and battery with a dangerous weapon)
  • G.L. c. 265, §15B (assault with dangerous weapon)
  • G.L. c. 265, §16 (attempted murder)
  • G.L. c. 265, § 18A (dangerous weapon; assault in dwelling house)
Defenses to Mayhem

Lack of intent to maim or disfigure is a strong defense to the crime of mayhem. For example, assume the defendant and the victim were in a fist fight, and during the fight, the defendant put out the victim’s eye. If the Commonwealth cannot prove that the defendant maliciously intended for the victim to lose his eye in the fight, then the defendant cannot be convicted. In fact, it is a common scenario where a victim suffers disfiguring or devastating injuries that were an unfortunate result of criminal conduct, even though the defendant never intended for his criminal conduct to result in those injuries.

Penalties

A conviction of mayhem carries a punishment of (1) up to twenty years in the state prison; or (2) a fine of up to $1,000 and imprisonment in jail for up to two and one-half years.

Mayhem Defense Lawyer Stephen Neyman

Because the victim’s injuries are usually devastating, a mayhem conviction carries a certain sentence of jail or prison time. It is essential that a defendant who faces mayhem charges obtain representation from a qualified and experienced criminal defense attorney to minimize this risk of imprisonment. Attorney Stephen Neyman will aggressively defend against the charges and work to protect his client’s rights. Contact our office today at 617-263-6800 for a free consultation.

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