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Criminal Jury Instructions

Criminal Jury Instructions Home

9.5-1  Criminal Mischief in the First Degree -- § 53a-115 (a) (1) and (5)

Revised to December 1, 2007

Note: Subsection (a) (1) concerns privately owned land and subsection (a) (5) concerns public land.  Tailor the instruction accordingly.

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

a person is guilty of criminal mischief in the first degree when with intent to cause damage to tangible property (of another / owned by the state or a municipality that is located on public land) and having no reasonable ground to believe that such person has a right to do so, such person damages tangible property of another in an amount exceeding one thousand five hundred dollars.

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

Element 1 - Damaged property
The first element is that the defendant damaged tangible property (of another / owned by the state or a municipality that is located on public land).  "Tangible" means that the property is something that can be felt and seen.  The statute is concerned with actual, physical damage to property. 

[<Insert as appropriate:>  This "other person" need not have had a complete, absolute, or exclusive right to the property.  It is enough if (he/she) had a right to possess it or shared some such right with someone else.] 

Element 2 - Property value
The second element is that the defendant caused damage to this property in an amount exceeding $1,500; that is, the value of the property was lowered by at least that amount.  The decrease in value may be proved by evidence showing the cost of repairs necessary to restore the property to its condition immediately before the alleged damage by the defendant.  Damage may also be proved by evidence showing a property value decrease in excess of $1,500.

Element 3 - Intent
The third element is that the defendant intentionally caused this damage.  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.>

Element 4 - No right
The fourth element is that the defendant had no reasonable ground to believe that (he/she) had a right to damage the property.  A "reasonable ground to believe" means that a reasonable person in the defendant's situation, viewing the circumstances from the defendant's point of view, would have shared that belief.

Conclusion

In summary, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that 1) the defendant damaged tangible property (of another / owned by the state or a municipality that is located on public land), 2) the damage was in excess of $1,500, 3) (he/she) did so with the specific intent to cause the damage, and 4) (he/she) had no reasonable ground to believe that (he/she) had a right to damage the property.

If you unanimously find that the state has proved beyond a reasonable doubt each of the elements of the crime of criminal mischief in the first 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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