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mayhem

mayhem mā´hĕm, mā´əm [key], in common law , the crime of willfully injuring a person so as to diminish his or her capacity for self-defense. Cutting off an arm or leg would thus be mayhem, while such a battery as cutting off an ear would not. Under modern statutes, however, mayhem (or maiming) is a form of aggravated battery that leads to mutilation (such as loss of an ear), disfigurement, or serious permanent injury jurisdictions vary in requiring specific intent to cause the injury or, more broadly, wanton behavior leading to it.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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