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mayhem(mā`hĕm, mā`əm), in common lawcommon law,
system of law that prevails in England and in countries colonized by England. The name is derived from the medieval theory that the law administered by the king's courts represented the common custom of the realm, as opposed to the custom of local jurisdiction that
..... Click the link for more information. , 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 batterybattery,
in criminal and tort law, the unpermitted touching of any part of the person of another, or of anything worn, carried by, or intimately associated at that moment (as a chair being sat on) with another.
..... Click the link for more information. 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.
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Law the wilful and unlawful infliction of injury upon a person, esp (formerly) the injuring or removing of a limb rendering him less capable of defending himself against attack
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005