Mutilate Law and Legal Definition

Mutilate is a term of varied meanings, such as:

  • to deprive of a limb or an essential part, or to make a cripple.
  • to disfigure by damaging irreparably. This mostly refers to mutilating things.
  • to make imperfect by excising or altering parts.

With respect to public records, to mutilate means cutting, tearing, erasing, or otherwise changing a document in a way that changes or destroys its legal effect. It is a federal crime to mutilate public records, coins, or passports. Under criminal law, mutilation is the crime of violently, maliciously, and intentionally giving someone a serious and permanent wound.