Various Aspects About Mayhem

Aggravated mayhem

Inflicting physical injury

According to Penal Code § 203, mayhem is defined as an unlawful and malicious action that deprives an individual of a body part, or disfigures or disables it or renders it useless. Actions that can be described as mayhem include slitting the nose, ear or lip, cutting or disabling the tongue or putting out an eye. In short, it is inflicting any form of serious physical injury knowing that it will harm the person and with the intention to do it.


A person can be accused for aggravated mayhem when he/she causes some form of permanent disability or disfigurement or deprives him/her of a limb or an organ or any body part of a person intentionally with clear indifference to the physical as well as the psychological effects that it may have on that person.  Intent to kill does not have to be proved in this case. The punishment for this offense can be life imprisonment in the state prison with a possibility of parole.

Defenses for mayhem:

The defenses for mayhem are very similar to that of battery. Self defense or defending another are two excellent defenses for beating charges for mayhem. In such instances, the injuries inflicted on the attacker are justified and reasonable. For instance if a person is being held at gun point and that person for reasons of self defense, grabs a glass bottle and uses it to harm his/her attacker in order to escape, then the injuries inflicted in such a circumstance will not be considered as mayhem.

Accident is another less commonly seen defense. This inspects the mental state or intent while inflicting the injuries to check if the intent was malicious.

Punishments for mayhem:

Physical injury

Punishments for mayhem

If convicted of mayhem, the minimum punishment awarded is two years in state prison and a maximum of up to eight years. In the case of aggravated mayhem, the punishment awarded may even be a life sentence. In criminal offenses such as these, it is common for certain enhancements of one to eight years to apply in sentencing. An additional three to six years in person may be given if there is ‘great bodily harm.’

These are some aspects of mayhem, the defense mechanisms against it and the punishments awarded for such criminal offenses. Get the opinion of an experienced attorney while fighting cases of such misdemeanor.