Self dismemberment and the law

I’m in a newly created US state where there are no laws relating to insanity, but all others apply.
My right hand offends me, so I cut if off with an axe.
Am I guilty of assault?

Assuming standard US common law applies, battery (not assault; more on that in a moment) is defined as:
[ol]
[li]an unlawful application of force[/li][li]to the person of another[/li][li]resulting in either bodily injury or an offensive touching.[/li][/ol]
(The “unlawful” part in element 1 basically means the person being touched hasn’t given consent to the touching. This is why boxers aren’t charged with battery for hitting each other in the ring; they’ve consented to it.)

Since “to the person of another” is part of the definition of the crime, the answer is no. You would not be guilty of battery.

Assault is a different crime, by the way. Under US common law, assault is generally defined as attempting to commit a battery. If your neighbor calls you up and says he’s on his way to your house to kick your ass, that’s not assault; in general, assault has to be immediate and direct enough to make you flinch.

Some jurisdictions (including Tennessee, where I’m a lawyer) have merged the two and it’s all just called “assault.”

Post pics.

OK, thanks. But say I was employed as a cocktail pianist. Under what grounds could the cocktail-club owner sue me?

I find it very difficult to believe that this is a serious question.

You’re right. I should have stuck to a question (now with two pages of responses) like how to kill someone with grapes.

In some places, suicide attempts are still considered illegal and cutting off your hand could certainly qualify.

In just about every place, cutting off your hand would be considered a mental illness at the level of being a threat to the safety of yourself and/or others, and that can get you committed. So… even if you haven’t technically committed a crime, you can be locked up.

As for the cocktail bar… if you are somehow in breach of contract then they could theoretically seek damages. This would depend on the employment contract and their ability to show damages; there are no general laws. Ironically, the Americans with Disabilities Act would require the employer to try to make accommodation for your new handicap, so maybe you could sue them. :slight_smile:

there’s a documentary, Whole, that deals with people that want to be amputees. Some have succeeded. I’ve seen it on the shelf at my local video store, but haven’t yet gotten around to checking it out.

As a mental condition, the overwhelming desire to become an amputee is called Body Integrity Identity Disorder. It usually involves a specific body part that the person wants amputated. There once was a blog or website that got some attention here on the SDMB about a woman who wanted both arms amputated and replaced with “TWIN BODY POWERED PROSTHESIS WITH DORRANCE #5X STAINLESS STEEL HOOKS”. Here’s and old thread about her.

In my opinion (and yes, I realize this probably isn’t the right forum for an opinion), the O.P. is too hypothetical. You don’t set out the laws of your state, except that there are no laws relating to insanity. You’re better off asking about existing U.S. law. In a hypothetical state, you can postulate any set of laws you wish. If you want to make self-mutilation a criminal offense, you can. After all, you created the state. The conditions you set forth just aren’t specific enough, and in all seriousness, I don’t see how this question can have a factual answer.

And colloquially known as apotemnophilia.

The law is sometimes overliteral and sometimes overly strictly applied. But you shouldn’t assume that laws are idiots.

It’s highly unlikely that any legislature would make self-mutilation a criminal offense. It’s possible that they might write a law against attack with an axe in such a way that it does not discriminate who the attackee is, but that’s because legislators can’t always predict every possible outcome of a law.

But that’s what the courts are for, to take the general outline of the law and apply it to particular cases. If the courts see that the legislature never meant the law to apply to self-destruction then a prosecution wouldn’t stand.

Either way, you can’t make imaginary law without a legislature or court system and expect to get a meaningful answer. That’s not what the law is.

Physics is a different issue and people can have legitimate answers on hypotheticals, which is why this is not the same as a thread on assault with a bag of grapes.

The ADA makes an exception in cases where the disability interferes with a necessary function of the job and cannot be handled with a “reasonable” accommodation. So an employer cannot be compelled, for example, to hire a blind person as a tour-bus driver, because there is no reasonable accommodation that can be made to allow that person to perform the necessary functions of the job. The one-armed piano player would fall under that clause as well.

He could always get a job as a paper hanger. I bet he’d stay busy.

If there were a law against self-mutilation, wouldn’t that make tattoos and piercings illegal? I’d say the answer is no, you wouldn’t be chased by the government for cutting off your hand.

Whatever the laws where you live, self-amputation can be more profitable than helping yourself to hotel shampoos (as detailed in another thread’s cutting-edge topic). You could search on insurance+“Nub City” (Google example, no pics), to learn about this.

For example, here is an article by Thomas Lake from the September 2, 2007, St. Petersburg Times, in Florida. Cash in before the insurers cut you off?

I found this to be the funniest reply to any of my queries ever.

See OP

OK. New York, NY. Queens. OP stands, now amended.

Sheesh, some lawyers are sticklers. They also often spin hypotheticals on counterfactuals on hypotheticals; many legal arguments exist as will-o-the-wisps as if created by Prospero.

Plus, why is physics prima facie the correct mode of inquiry for assault with a bag of grapes. When presented solely with that thread title, I might wonder if the poster is asking about should one kill himself by grapes or by tiramisu, or whether “death by grapes” might be understood by an AI semantic processor as “The book Death by [an author] Grapes,” which in AI studies is no joke.

Well what if my lawyer uses the old Wittgenstein Defense? What if he could be shown to have mastered the works here and here? Or what if you, the suer, actually areMary Grace?

Also :smiley: to** Tim Tildrum**.

I recently saw a one legged man picking out wallpaper. The first thought to pop into my head was that somewhere out there a one armed man was having a great time in an ass kicking contest.

If I get to hell first, I’ll save you a seat.

A friend of mine lost the last joint of his pinkie finger in an accident. He received, IIRC, $5,000. That was maybe 15 years ago. His wife occasionally brings it up when money is tight. She thinks he is a wuss for not losing the matching joint from the other hand. Seriously.

It’s only a flesh wound.