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Criminal Jury Instructions

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8.2-10  Possession of a Weapon on School Grounds -- § 53a-217b

Revised to December 1, 2007

The defendant is charged [in count __] with the possession of a weapon on school grounds.  The statute defining this offense reads in pertinent part as follows: 

a person is guilty of possession of a weapon on school grounds when, knowing that such person is not licensed or privileged to do so, such person possesses a (firearm / deadly weapon) (in or on the real property comprising a public or private elementary or secondary school / at a school-sponsored activity).

For you to find the defendant guilty of this charge, the state must prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt: 

Element 1 - Possessed a firearm or deadly weapon
The first element is that the defendant possessed a (firearm / deadly weapon).  <Insert appropriate definition(s):>

  • "Firearm" is defined by statute as any sawed-off shotgun, machine gun, rifle, shotgun, pistol, revolver or other weapon, whether loaded or unloaded, from which a shot may be discharged.  You must find that the firearm was operable at the time the defendant possessed it.1

  • "Deadly weapon" is defined by statute as any weapon, whether loaded or unloaded, from which a shot may be discharged, or a switchblade knife, gravity knife, billy, blackjack, bludgeon, or metal knuckles.  If the weapon is a firearm, it may be unloaded, but it must be in such condition that a shot may be discharged from it.  Thus, if the weapon is loaded but not in working order, it is not a deadly weapon.  If the weapon is unloaded but in working order, it is a deadly weapon.

“Possession" means either actual possession or constructive possession.  Actual possession means actual physical possession, such as having the object on one's person.  Constructive possession means having the object in a place under one's dominion and control.

Possession also requires that the defendant knew that (he/she) was in possession of the firearm.  That is, that (he/she) was aware that (he/she) was in possession of it and was aware of its nature.  The state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant knew that (he/she) was in possession of the firearm.  <See Knowledge, Instruction 2.3-3.>

<If some form of constructive possession is alleged, see Possession, Instruction 2.11-1.>2

Element 2 - On school grounds
The second element is that the defendant was (on the real property comprising a public or private elementary or secondary school / at a school-sponsored event).  ["School-sponsored activity" means "any activity sponsored, recognized or authorized by a board of education and includes activities conducted on or off school property."3

Element 3 - With knowledge
The third element is that the defendant knew that (he/she) was not licensed or privileged to do so.  The phrase "license or privilege" means having been given permission or right to do so.  A person acts "knowingly" with respect to conduct or to a circumstance when (he/she) is aware that (his/her) conduct is of such nature or that such circumstance exists.  <See Knowledge, Instruction 2.3-3.>

Conclusion

In summary, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that 1) the defendant possessed a (firearm / deadly weapon), 2) (he/she) was (on school grounds / at a school-sponsored event), and 3) (he/she) knew that (he/she) was not licensed or privileged to do so.

If you unanimously find that the state has proved beyond a reasonable doubt each of the elements of the crime of possession of a weapon on school grounds, then you shall find the defendant guilty.  On the other hand, if you unanimously find that the state has failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt any of the elements, you shall then find the defendant not guilty.
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1 The definition of "firearm" as found in General Statutes § 53a-3 (19), which applies to this offense, requires that the firearm be operable.

2 Ascertain from counsel what form of possession is alleged.  The definition should be narrowly tailored to the allegations.

3 General Statutes § 10-233a (h), which is specifically incorporated into § 53a-217b.

Commentary

See General Statutes § 53a-217b (b) for exceptions to culpability.  "[W]here exceptions to a prohibition in a criminal statute are situated separately from the enacting clause, the exceptions are to be proven by the defense."  (Internal quotation marks omitted.)  State v. Valinski, 254 Conn. 107, 123 (2000) (rule also applies when the exception is found in a separate statute).
 


 

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