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Criminal Jury Instructions

Criminal Jury Instructions Home

2.3-4  Recklessness -- § 53a-3 (13)

Revised to December 1, 2007

A person acts "recklessly" with respect to a result or to a circumstance described by a statute defining an offense when the defendant is aware of and consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that such result will occur or that such circumstance exists.  The risk must be of such nature and degree that disregarding it constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of conduct that a reasonable person would observe in the situation.  The standard of conduct of a reasonable person in the same situation as the defendant is the doing of something that a reasonably prudent person would do under the circumstances or omitting to do what a reasonably prudent person would not do under the circumstances.

A gross deviation is a great or substantial deviation, not just a slight or moderate deviation.  There must be a great or substantial difference between, on the one hand, the defendant's conduct in disregarding a substantial and unjustifiable risk, and, on the other hand, what a reasonable person would have done under the circumstances.  Whether a risk is substantial and unjustifiable is a question of fact for you to determine under all the circumstances.

Commentary

See State v. Otto, 50 Conn. App. 1, 10-11, cert. denied, 247 Conn. 927-28 (1998) (approving this language); State v. Bunker, 27 Conn. App. 322, 329 (1992) (the term "gross deviation" has its ordinary meaning).

"General Statutes § 53a-3 (13) require[s] the court to define and explain the objective standard of care of a reasonable person."  State v. Salz, 26 Conn. App. 448, 456 (1992), aff'd, 226 Conn. 20 (1993).  For a discussion of the potential for confusion in defining the reasonable person standard, see State v. Salz, 226 Conn. 20, 42-50 (1993) (Berdon, J., dissenting).
 


 

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