By this time most of us are probably familiar with the quasi-comical “Mayhem” character used in the television commercials of a certain national insurance company.  However, the original meaning of the word was far less humorous and had nothing to do with damaging, one’s car, home or motorcycle.  Mayhem was the name historically given to the crime of injuring another in such a way that he could not fight or defend himself.  “Mayhem” was a crime in Pennsylvania until 1972.  At that time the crimes of “simple assault” and “aggravated assault” were added to the Crimes Code by the Pennsylvania legislature as a more general replacement: less colorful and more descriptive terms for what continues to be a serious offense.



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