In science, there exists something called the “butterfly effect.” The butterfly effect involves circumstances in which a small change in an initial state can result in massive difference in a later state. The concept got its name from scientists who asked the question: can a massive storm in one part of the world be traced back to a butterfly flapping its wings in another corner of the globe? In other words, sometimes very small distinctions or differences can, in the long run, have dramatic impacts on future outcomes. That’s true in the law, too, where very seemingly small things can sometimes be the difference between acquittal and conviction, which is why it pays to have a knowledgeable Maryland criminal attorney on your side for your defense.
Consider a man named C.W. C.W. was facing a very serious felony charge when he stood trial in Montgomery County. In order to obtain a conviction, the state had to show that C.W. inflicted “severe physical injury” on his alleged victim. In Maryland, the law defines severe physical injury as “a physical injury that either “creates a substantial risk of death” or “causes permanent or protracted serious disfigurement, loss of the function of any bodily member or organ, or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.”
At the end of C.W.’s trial, the judge gave the jury its instructions. The judge, following a “pattern” jury instruction, informed the jury that they should convict if the prosecution sufficiently showed that the alleged victim suffered an injury with a substantial risk of death, that caused “permanent or protracted serious disfigurement,” or “causes loss or impairment of a member or organ of the body or its ability to function properly.”