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Criminal Jury Instructions

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9.3-2 Arson in the Second Degree -- § 53a-112 (a) (1)

Revised to December 1, 2007 (modified June 13, 2008)

The defendant is charged [in count __] with arson in the second degree. The statute defining this offense reads in pertinent part as follows:

a person is guilty of arson in the second degree when, with intent to destroy or damage a building, (he/she) starts a fire or causes an explosion and <insert appropriate subsection:>

  • § 53a-112 (a) (1) (A): such act subjects another person to a substantial risk of bodily injury.

  • § 53a-112 (a) (1) (B): such fire or explosion was intended to conceal some other criminal act.

  • § 53a-112 (a) (1) (C): such fire or explosion was intended to subject another person to a deprivation of a right, privilege or immunity secured or protected by the constitution or laws of this state or of the United States

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

Element 1 - Started or caused fire or explosion1
The first element is that the defendant started or caused a fire or explosion. To "start" means to commence. To "cause an act to be done" is to bring it about. The fire started need not be a tremendous one. The mere striking of a match can be the start of a fire. The fire or explosion must be incendiary in origin. That is, it must not be accidental or caused by carelssness.  In considering whether the fire or explosion was incendiary in origin, you may rely upon all the facts and circumstances at the time and place of the fire or explosion, as you find them to have been proved, and may draw any reasonable or logical inferences from such facts. The mere fact that there was fire or explosion damage to a building does not create an inference that its origin was incendiary.

Element 2 - Intent
The second element is that the defendant specifically intended to destroy or damage a building.2 A person acts "intentionally" with respect to a result when (his/her) conscious objective is to cause such result. <See Intent: Specific, Instruction 2.3-1.>

Ordinarily, "building" implies a structure that may be entered and used by people, as a residence or for business, or for other purposes involving occupancy by people, whether or not it is actually entered and used as such. <Insert one or both of the following parts of the definition as appropriate:>

  • The law has expanded this definition to include, in addition to what we ordinarily know as a building, any watercraft, aircraft, trailer, sleeping car, railroad car, other structure or vehicle or any building with a valid certificate of occupancy.

  • The statutory definition also provides that where a building consists of separate units, such as, but not limited to separate apartments, offices or rented rooms, any unit not occupied by the defendant is, in addition to being a part of such building, a separate building.

Element 3 - Additional factor
The third element is that <insert as appropriate:>

  • § 53a-112 (a) (1) (A): the defendant's act of starting a fire or causing an explosion subjected another person to a substantial risk of bodily injury. A "substantial risk of bodily injury" means a risk that is real, considerable and material.

  • § 53a-112 (a) (1) (B): the defendant's intention was to conceal some other criminal act. You must find that the defendant committed a criminal act and that (he/she) started the fire or caused the explosion with the intent to conceal that act. In this case, the state claims that the defendant committed the crime of <insert name of crime>. The elements of that offense are <refer to instruction on alleged crime>.

  • § 53a-112 (a) (1) (C): the defendant's act of starting a fire or causing an explosion was intended to subject another person to a deprivation of a right, privilege or immunity secured or protected by the constitution or laws of this state or of the United States. Rights, privileges and immunities are generally synonymous terms referring to the guarantees that all citizens of this country enjoy, including but not limited to ownership of property, life, liberty and the exercise of civil rights.

Conclusion

In summary, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that 1) the defendant started or caused a fire or explosion, 2) (he/she) intended to destroy or damage <identify the building>, and 3) <insert appropriate additional factor>.

If you unanimously find that the state has proved beyond a reasonable doubt each of the elements of the crime of arson in the second degree, 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 State v. Houle, 105 Conn. App. 813, 818 n.4 (2008) (on the meaning of incendiary); State v. Gaines, 36 Conn. App. 454, 458-59 (1995) (on the meaning of "causing a fire").

2 State v. Dubose, 75 Conn. App. 163, 174-75, cert. denied, 263 Conn. 909 (2003).
 


 

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