Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Mayhem Definition:

Violently depriving another person of a body part to render less effective that person's defence of self.

Related Terms: Affray

Also known as maim.

Bryne's Law Dictionary defines mayhem as:

"Violently depriving another of the use of a member proper for his defence in fight, such as an arm, a leg, an eye, etc.

'It was originally both a civil injury (tort) and a criminal offence, but by modern statutes the law relating to felonious maiming and wounding has been amended so that there is no legal difference between depriving a person of a member proper for his defence in fight and causing him any other grievous bodily harm.

"The use of the word is obsolete."

William Blackstone, in Book 4 of his 1756 Commentaries on the Laws of England defined the crime of mayhem similarly and added:

" ... the cutting off or disabling or weakening a man's hand or finger, or striking out his eye or foretooth, or depriving him of those parts the loss of which in all animals abates their courage, are held to be mayhems.

"But the cutting off his ear or nose, or the like, are not held to be mayhems at common law because they do not weaken but only disfigure him."

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