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Mayhem is a very serious crime in Massachusetts, carrying a potential for substantial jail time. M.G.L. ch. 265, §14 makes it a crime to cause, or attempt to cause, the permanent injury or disfigurement of another, while maliciously intending to do so.

The statute specifically provides for instances like:

  • severing a limb
  • disabling a limb
  • putting out an eye
  • cutting off an ear
  • cutting a lip or nose
  • cutting off of a member (genitals)

M.G.L. ch. 265, §14 also makes it a crime to assault another with the intent to maim or disfigure using a dangerous weapon or chemical. The statute includes anything from an assault with a knife to cut someone to throwing acid on someone to burn them. Also, any assault that inflicts serious harm, permanent injury, maims or cripples the victim could be mayhem.

A bystander could also be found guilty of mayhem if they were aware of the attacker's intent to maim or disfigure the victim. Simply being present for the attack, having knowledge of what the attacker intends, can subject you to significant jail time.



Mayhem is punishable for a maximum of 20 years in state prison and a fine of $1,000. Mayhem is a felony offense that can be resolved in the District Courts, with a maximum of 2.5 years in jail.


Defenses to Mayhem

Mayhem is an intent crime - accidents do NOT count. The prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that serious harm or disfigurement was caused, and that the defendant had intended to cause it. It often occurs during fights that someone suffers a significant injury (to an eye, for instance) where that injury was simply not intended by the defendant. If the intent to cause the injury was not present, the defendant cannot be convicted of mayhem.


Mayhem experts, Equitas Law

The attorneys of Equitas Law handle a wide range of serious violent crimes, including mayhem, and are experts in litigating serious cases all the way to trial. If you are facing a charge of mayhem you should contact a knowledgeable attorney right away. Call (617) 723-4163 for a free, no commitment consultation.

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Criminal Defense FAQ

We Hope This Helps!

As a criminal defense lawyer, the fact that you clicked this accordion drives me crazy!

NO, you shouldn't! At least not without a lawyer after careful consideration.

Think about it. The police have a job, which is to solve crimes and bring criminal charges. The only reason for them to call you is because they are looking for evidence and there is no better evidence than your statement. Very often, they are calling you because they don't have enough evidence to charge you yet and they're looking to make their case with your statements.

They are not your friends. They are not trying to help you. There is nothing to "clear up". They will not go away if you just admit it and take responsibility.

Seriously, don't speak to the police without consulting a criminal defense lawyer first. It may be that we ultimately decide to give a statement, but only if it will help your case and after careful consideration!

First, unless you have committed a very serious crime, the chances of you going to jail are minimal (especially if you hire a good attorney). In any event, this is not something that typically would happen until many months down the road.

We're not going to lie to you, if the prosecution can meet the burden of proof on your case, there will be consequences, ranging from a slap on the wrist to jail time. Our job is to minimize the consequences and to eliminate them, if possible.

Of course, this depends on the charges, your criminal history and many other factors, so please feel free to reach out and we can give you a more specific answer.

No, no, no, no no! Even if you decide to eventually take responsibility, your lawyer should negotiate the best deal possible. What this means depends entirely the circumstances of your criminal charge, but very often you can take responsibility and still avoid a permanent criminal record. It may also involve:

  • Pre-Trial Probation or Pre-Trial Diversion
  • An outright Dismissal of your charges upon payment of court costs
  • A Continuation Without a Finding, including the length and terms of your probation (after which the case is dismissed)
  • A period of straight probation without a jail or state prison sentence
  • A suspended sentence, where a sentence is imposed, but not served unless probation is violated
  • A lesser sentence to jail or prison and less severe conditions upon release

This is to say nothing of the fact that your case may be winnable on a motion to dismiss or at trial!

In many cases, yes. Some cases have issues that may justify a Motion to Suppress or a Motion to Dismiss for lack of evidence.

Others can and should be taken to trial, or call for a plea as soon as possible so the client can move on with their life.

The decision on what to do really depends on the facts of the case and your individual goals.

This is why it is important to speak to an experienced Massachusetts criminal attorney who can quickly evaluate your specific case to see if there are any issues worth pursuing.

Related Content:

Strategy and Potential Issues in Massachusetts Criminal Cases

As a criminal defense lawyer, the fact that you clicked this accordion drives me crazy!

No, do NOT talk to the police without a lawyer. They are not your friends. They are not trying to help you. They will not go away if you just admit it and take responsibility.

Their job is to gather evidence of crimes and there is no better evidence than your statement.

It may be that we ultimately decide to give a statement, but only if it will help your case and after careful consideration!

It is very possible that you can avoid a criminal record, especially if you don't have a significant criminal history and and it is a relatively minor offense.

The answer to this question is very case-specific, depending on the facts of your case and what we decide to do with it.

A vast majority of our criminal cases cases are handled on a flat fee basis, ranging from a clerk-magistrate's hearing to superior court or federal court cases.

All we can tell you is that we are always up front and honest, and will treat you fairly. We're also willing to work with you on payments if we can, as this is not all about the money.

Of course, it is prefereable to have an attorney at the arraignment, but don't panic! First, you can call or text me at any time and I may be able to be there. If not, take a look at this link for all the information you need:

Arraignment in Massachusetts – What You Need to Know.

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