[mey-hem, mey-uhm]
mayhem, 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.

Crime of willfully and permanently crippling, mutilating, or disfiguring any part of another's body. Some jurisdictions do not distinguish between mayhem and other types of battery. Japanese law treats all batteries similarly; Indian law divides bodily harms into “hurts” and “grievous hurts.” In most U.S. states mayhem is encompassed by assault and aggravated assault.

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