Serious Bodily Harm is a legal term that is used in some criminal cases.  It is often distinguished other types of harm, such as emotional harm or psychological damage.  Serious bodily harm may result from both intentional as well as unintentional (negligent) conduct.

The phrase “serious bodily harm” (SBH) is also related to other terms such as serious bodily injury (SBI), “grievous bodily harm, or simply “bodily harm”.

What are Some Examples of Serious Bodily Harm and Serious Bodily Injury?

State laws may vary when it comes to the definition of serious bodily harm and serious bodily injury.  Generally speaking, serious bodily harm is defined as any injury that seriously interferes with the person’s health or comfort, and that is long-lasting rather than short-lived. 

Some examples of serious bodily harm may include:

  • Paralysis
  • Loss of limb, loss of functioning in a limb, and broken bones
  • Head, neck, or spine injuries
  • Serious cuts or burns
  • Scarring or serious disfigurement

Serious bodily harm is frequently connected with cases involving recklessness in a car accident, and in many intentional crimes such as battery, robbery, or assault. 

How is Serious Bodily Harm Involved in Criminal Laws?

In a criminal case, serious bodily injury can change the outcome of a case.  For instance, if the crime involved serious bodily harm to the plaintiff, it can cause a situation where a misdemeanor crime is elevated to that of felony status. 

For example, battery is usually a misdemeanor charge, but if the battery causes serious bodily harm to the victim, the defendant will usually face felony charges.  Another example of this is where a misdemeanor DUI charge is raised to a felony charge because one or more victims suffered serious bodily harm from the DUI incident.  Thus, serious bodily harm is generally considered to be one of those “aggravating factors” that can raise a misdemeanor crime to a felony crime.

Crimes involving serious bodily harm are usually punished as felony crimes, resulting in criminal fines and a prison sentence of at least one year. 

Do I Need a Lawyer for Assistance with Serious Bodily Harm Laws?

Crimes involving serious bodily harm or serious bodily injury are prosecuted very strictly.  If you need assistance with a criminal case, it’s in your best interests to hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer.  Your attorney can provide you with expert legal advice and can represent you during the court hearings.  In addition, your lawyer can research the laws to determine whether any specific defenses are available in your case.