Contact defense firm Meyer Van Severen, S.C. at (414) 270-0202 to discuss your mayhem charge

Milwaukee criminal defense lawyers Matthew R. Meyer and Benjamin T. Van Severen provide mayhem defense.  Our Milwaukee criminal defense firm, Meyer Van Severen, S.C., provides defense to individuals facing all criminal charges in Wisconsin.  If you’ve been charged with mayhem, contact one of our skilled criminal defense attorneys today.  Meyer and Van Severen focus their practice on 100% criminal defense and drunk driving.  Our criminal defense attorneys can be reached at (414) 270-0202.


What is “mayhem”?

Section 940.21 of the Wisconsin Statutes states that:

“Whoever, with intent to disable or disfigure another, cuts or mutilates the tongue, eye, ear, nose, lip, limb or other bodily member of another is guilty of a Class C felony.”

A Class C felony is punishable by 40 years prison and up to $100,000.00 in fines.

Mayhem has been a crime for centuries.  Courts in Wisconsin have had the opportunity to clarify what the crime means.

In State v. Quintana, the Supreme Court of Wisconsin clarified the phrase “other bodily member”: “The manner in which the legislature used the phrase, ‘other bodily member,’ requires that we give that phrase a broad construction. If ‘other bodily member’ were to be narrowly construed, the construction would produce absurd results, and the purpose of the statute would easily be defeated. Because the legislature intended the phrase ‘other bodily member’ to be construed broadly rather than narrowly, the phrase ‘other bodily member’ in the mayhem statute encompasses all bodily parts, including a person’s forehead. The application of the mayhem statute is limited by the need to prove that a person specifically intended to disable or disfigure.”

What does this mean to defendants?  The statute itself, when it refers to “other bodily member” includes any body part.  The State is limited in charging the crime by the fact that the defendant needs to specifically intend to disable or disfigure.  If the defendant did not intend to disable or disfigure the victim, mayhem has not occurred.  Proving mayhem is easier, and more commonly done, with certain bodily parts (for example, when someone intends to, and bites off, an ear).  In Quintana, the court found that a forehead qualified as an “other bodily member.”

Further, the Court of Appeals in Wisconsin in Kirby v. State determined that in order to sustain a conviction, it must be shown that for an injury to constitute mayhem, the injury must be one of “great bodily harm.”  The mere nick with a knife does not qualify as mayhem.  The court came to its conclusion based on an analysis of common law, which required that it be shown that the mayhem affected one’s combat ability.  Although today’s law clearly doesn’t require that it be shown the victim’s battling abilities be compromised, a simple cut doesn’t qualify.


Need mayhem defense?  Contact criminal defense firm Meyer Van Severen, S.C. today:

Mayhem is not commonly charged in Wisconsin.  But if you face this charge, it’s important that you hire one of Wisconsin’s criminal defense attorneys who understands the charge.  Attorney Matthew R. Meyer and Benjamin T. Van Severen are Milwaukee criminal defense lawyers who provides intelligent, aggressive criminal defense.  If you need mayhem defense, contact Meyer Van Severen at (414) 270-0202.