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What Are the Elements of Mayhem in Massachusetts?

The crime of mayhem in Massachusetts is proscribed by Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 265 Section 14. The law provides the prosecution with two ways to prove you guilty of this crime depending on the circumstances of the case. In the first instance the district attorney must prove two elements to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt. These elements are as follows:

  1. That you acted with malicious intent to maim or disfigure, and;
  2. That you did so by cutting out or maiming the victim's tongue, or that you put out or destroyed one of his eyes, or that you cut or tore off an ear, or that you cut, slit or mutilated his lip or cut off or disabled another person's limb.

To prove its case the prosecution must show that you intended to do one of these acts. If the maiming or disfiguring is incidental to a fight or some other type of criminal conduct and you did not intend for that result then you are not guilty of mayhem. It is up to the prosecution to prove that you had a reasonable appreciation that a disabling or disfiguring injury would result, and that you meant to cause that result.

Under the second theory for prosecuting the crime of mayhem the prosecutor must prove that:

  1. The defendant acted with the specific intent to maim or disfigure the victim;
  2. The defendant in fact assaulted the victim;
  3. The defendant assaulted the victim with a dangerous weapon, substance or chemical, and;
  4. By the assault the defendant in fact disfigured, crippled or inflicted serious or permanent physical injury on the victim.

The word "cripple" means to deprive of the use of a limb, particularly of a leg or foot, to lame or to deprive of strength, activity or capability for service. Even if the victim completely recovers from the injuries, a jury can still find that the defendant disfigured, crippled or inflicted serious or permanent physical injuries on the victim.

If I Am Convicted of Mayhem in Massachusetts Will I Go to Jail?

The crime of mayhem can be prosecuted in either the Superior Courts or the District Courts in Massachusetts. If the case is handled in the Superior Court there is a potential 20 year state prison sentence after a conviction. If the case is prosecuted in the District Court the punishment can be as much as 2½ years in jail. For the most part anyone who is convicted of mayhem in Massachusetts will go to jail or state prison. This is because the damage caused to the victim is usually so severe that judges believe that anything short of jail time would not be an adequate punishment. What does this mean to you? You have to win the case. To win you will need the best criminal defense lawyer you can get.

Can I Win a Mayhem Case in Massachusetts?

The answer is yes. You absolutely can. With the right criminal defense lawyer you can successfully defend a mayhem case. Mayhem is often a defensible crime in that it is very difficult to prove that a person intended to maim or disfigure someone. Typically when devastating injuries happen to people during the commission of a crime they are incidental to the criminal conduct, not intended. It is important that if you are charged with this crime you have an experienced Massachusetts Criminal Defense Lawyer who has defended violent crime cases including mayhem. Our office has that expertise. Call us now at 617-263-6800 or contact us online.

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