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Criminal Jury Instructions

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3.1-2  Renunciation of Criminal Purpose (Accessory) -- § 53a-10 (a)

Revised to December 1, 2007

Note:  This instruction should be narrowly tailored with regard to the evidence presented in the case.  Before giving this instruction, the court should instruct on § 53a-8 as it applies to the particular offense.  The court should bear in mind its authority to direct the state to be more specific in the factual basis of the allegation. 

There has been some evidence presented with regard to the defense of renunciation of criminal purpose.   The defendant claims that (he/she) terminated (his/her) complicity before (his/her) actions violated the law.  The statute defining this defense reads in pertinent part as follows:

it shall be a defense that the defendant terminated (his/her) complicity prior to the commission of the offense under circumstances: (1) wholly depriving it of effectiveness in the commission of the offense, and (2) manifesting a complete and voluntary renunciation of (his/her) criminal purpose. 

Renunciation of criminal purpose is not voluntary if it is motivated, in whole or in part, by circumstances, not present or apparent at the inception of the actor's course of conduct, which increase the probability of detection or apprehension or which make more difficult the accomplishment of the criminal purpose.  Renunciation is not complete if it is motivated by a decision to postpone the criminal conduct until a more advantageous time or to transfer the criminal effort to another but similar objective or victim.1 

It is necessary that the defendant both repudiate (his/her) prior aid and deprive that aid of effectiveness.  A mere change of heart or flight from the crime scene does not establish the defense of renunciation. 

The defendant has no burden of proof whatsoever with respect to this defense.  The state has the burden of disproving this defense beyond a reasonable doubt.  In other words, the defendant is entitled to an acquittal if the state fails to disprove beyond a reasonable doubt: 1) the defendant voluntarily and completely renounced (his/her) criminal purpose; or that 2) the defendant, through (his/her) voluntary and complete renunciation, deprived the aid of its effectiveness in the commission of the crime.

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1 General Statutes § 53a-10 (b).

Commentary

A defendant is entitled as a matter of law to an instruction on renunciation of criminal purpose instruction when there is any evidence to support the claim.  State v. Rosado, 178 Conn. 704, 708 (1979); State v. Livingston, 22 Conn. App. 216, 223, cert. denied, 216 Conn. 812 (1990). See State v. Adams, 225 Conn. 270, 281-87 (1993) (instruction not warranted because defendant had provided the gun used in the crime, and had not attempted to recover it prior to the crime); State v. Richardson, 40 Conn. App. 526, 530-32, cert. denied, 237 Conn. 905, cert. denied, 519 U.S. 902, 117 S. Ct. 257, 136 L. Ed. 2d 183 (1996) (instruction warranted when evidence showed that driver of the getaway car had left the scene).
 


 

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