Some crimes may carry harsher penalties if they cause substantial bodily harm. The definition of substantial bodily harm can vary by state, but in general it can include any bodily injury which causes serious and permanent disfigurement, loss of body function or body member, or a serious injury which causes prolonger physical pain. Substantial bodily harm is not just near fatal injuries but can include permanent or permanent cosmetic injuries such as: paralysis, organ damage, severe burns, broken bones, gunshot wounds, concussions, and severe contusions.
Substantial bodily harm is evaluated on a case-by-case basis by considering: 1)how long the injury will last; 2) the severity of the injury; 3) the amount of pain caused by the injury; 4) the cost and amount of medical care needed to treat the injury; and 5) how the injury was sustained. State laws may allow the courts some discretion to determine if a crime caused substantial bodily harm. Penalties for kidnapping, rape, battery, assault, child abuse and neglect, and aggravated stalking all may be increased if the suspect's actions caused substantial bodily harm.
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