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Criminal Jury Instructions

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6.7 Introduction to Stalking and Harassment

Revised to April 23, 2010

"The stalking statute was enacted to address the situation where the criminal does not physically take an act against the person or does not verbally make a direct and immediate threat of harm, but merely stalks the victim. . . .  The statute can be violated without a defendant's uttering a syllable, writing a word, or making a gesture."  (Citations omitted; internal quotation marks omitted.)  State v. Marsala, 44 Conn. App. 84, 95, cert. denied, 240 Conn. 912 (1997).  A defendant's obsessive behaviors are sufficient to reasonably cause a victim to fear for his or her physical safety.  State v. Russell, 101 Conn. App. 298, 317-18, cert. denied, 284 Conn. 910 (2007).

"As used in § 53a-181d and § 53a-181e, which requires that any 'following' be 'wilful' and 'repeated,' the 'following' must have a predatory thrust to it.  The statute does not encompass 'following' that is aimless, unintentional, accidental or undertaken for a lawful purpose."  State v. Jackson, 56 Conn. App. 264, 272, cert. denied, 242 Conn. 938 (2000).

"The standard to be applied in determining the reasonableness of the victim's fear in the context of the crime of stalking is a subjective-objective one."   State v. Cummings, 46 Conn. App. 661, 678, cert. denied, 243 Conn. 940 (1997).

The harrassment statute "does not require the state to prove that the defendant engaged in a direct communication with the person whom he intended to harass."  State v. Snyder, 40 Conn. App. 544, 552, cert. denied, 237 Conn. 921 (1996) (defendant caused numerous pieces of unsolicited mail and packages to be received by the complainants).  

The harrassment statute does not attempt to regulate or restrict the content of communications; instead it focuses on the specific intent to harass, annoy or alarm the victim; it therefore has survived numerous constitutional challenges.  See State v. Murphy, 254 Conn. 561, 571-72 (2000); State v. Bell, 55 Conn. App. 475, 478-81, cert. denied, 252 Conn. 908 (1999); State v. Snyder, 49 Conn. App. 617, 625 (1998).

"[A]n individual violates § 53a-183 (a) (3) each time the individual makes a telephone call with the intent to harass, alarm and annoy the victim in a manner likely to cause annoyance or alarm regardless of the number of times the victim actually became alarmed or annoyed, if any, and regardless of how close in time the calls were made or whether the victim was actually harassed, annoyed or alarmed."  State v. Marsala, 93 Conn. App. 582, 589, cert. denied, 278 Conn. 902 (2006); see also State v. Moulton, 120 Conn. App. 330, 339 (2010) (the court must make it clear that the jury is “to examine only whether the act of calling and causing the ringing of the telephone was harassing, and to look to the speech only for the intent in physically making the telephone call.”).

Conviction of both criminal violation of a protective order and harassment in the second degree does not violate the prohibition against double jeopardy.  State v. Martino, 61 Conn. App. 118, 128 (2000).


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