Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Superficial Wound Definition:

A scrape, bruise, discoloration, or swelling, of minimal severity.

In Jones v State, Kevin Jones was convicted of serious disfigurement of a child (burning the boy with a hot iron), the charges hinging on whether the injuries he inflicted were superficial wounds. The Court of Appeals of Georgia agreed with the trial's judge's characterization of the offence when these words were used:

"(T)he injury must be more than a superficial wound such as a scrape, bruise, discoloration, or swelling.... A finding of serious disfigurement requires proof that the injury inflicted was more than a superficial wound, that is, a scrape, bruise, discoloration, or swelling."

In an earlier case out of the same judge, same Court, Williams v. State, the Court's opinion (Justice John J. Ellington) recorded this statement of the law; that in the statutory definitions of simple battery, battery, and aggravated battery:

"(S)eriously disfiguring ... must require an injury more severe than the visible wounds used to illustrate the visible bodily harm required to support a battery conviction (that is) substantially blackened eyes, substantially swollen lips or other facial or body parts, or substantial bruises to body parts."

In Williams, Justice Ellington gleaned these examples of injuries that exceeded the legal definition of superficial wounds:

  • Broken nose, deep lacerations requiring stitches, extensive bruising
  • Massive bruising, cuts, and swelling resulting from head trauma that left the victim incoherent
  • A broken and distended finger
  • Shattered nasal and sinus bones;
  • Lacerations to face, ear, and neck requiring stitches;
  • Multiple, severe blows to the head requiring hospitalization;
  • Gasoline burns resulting in scarring; and
  • Scarring from multiple gunshot wounds.

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