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§ 940.21, Mayhem – Elements – Generally – Includes “Forehead”

State v. Leonard J. Quintana, 2008 WI 33, affirming 2007 WI App 29
For Quintana: James B. Connell, Robyn J. DeVos, William R. Kerner


¶70      To constitute mayhem, the State must show that the defendant had (1) the specific intent to disable or disfigure; (2) by cutting or mutilating the tongue, eye, ear, nose, lip, limb, or other bodily member; and (3) the cutting or mutilating produced great bodily harm. Wis JI——Criminal 1246. [33]¶71      A specific intent to disable or disfigure is distinguishable from a general intent. A general intent to do the acts and the consciousness of the nature of the acts and possible results differs from the specific intent to do the intended harm, i.e., the specific intent to disable or disfigure. Kirby v. State, 86 Wis.  2d 292, 301, 272 N.W.2d 113 (Ct. App. 1978); State v. Weso, 60 Wis.  2d 404, 411-12, 210 N.W.2d 442 (1973).

¶72      Mayhem requires great bodily harm, although the Jury Instruction Committee has been skeptical of this assertion. …

Issue/Holding: A forehead is a “bodily member” for purposes of the mayhem statute, § 940.21.

The opinion includes a very lengthy recitation of statutory history of mayhem, going back to the Coventry Act of 1670.Distilled, here’s the lesson to take away: “the manner in which the legislature uses the phrase ‘other bodily member’ indicates that the legislature intended that phrase to be construed broadly, and thus we have given effect to that intent,” ¶57. That, and the court’s casual recognition, “Mayhem is rarely charged because of the number of other statutes that can be charged in its place. It will likely continue to be rarely charged due to the difficulty in proving a specific intent,” ¶ 69, n. 31.


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