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Criminal Jury Instructions

Criminal Jury Instructions Home

9.5-10  Criminal Mischief in the Fourth Degree -- § 53a-117a (a) (2)

Revised to December 1, 2007

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

a person is guilty of criminal mischief in the fourth degree when, having no reasonable ground to believe (he/she) has a right to do so, (he/she) (intentionally / recklessly) (damages / tampers with / removes) any tangible property owned by (the state / a municipality / a person) for fire alarm, smoke detection and alarm, fire suppressant or police alarm purposes.

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

Element 1 – Damaged, tampered with or removed property
The first element is that the defendant (damaged / tampered with / removed) tangible property owned by the (the state / a municipality / a person) for fire alarm, smoke detection and alarm, fire suppressant or police alarm purposes.  "Tangible" means capable of being felt and seen.  <Insert definitions as appropriate:>

  • To "damage" means to cause harm to the property. 

  • To "tamper with" means to physically interfere with.

Element 2 - Intentionally / Recklessly
The second element is that the defendant acted (intentionally / recklessly)1 in (damaging / tampering with / removing) the property.  <Insert as appropriate:>

  • 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.>

  • A person acts "recklessly" with respect to a result or circumstances when (he/she) is aware of and consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that such result will occur or that such circumstances exist.  <See Recklessness, Instruction 2.3-4.>

Element 3 - No right
The third element is that the defendant had no reasonable ground to believe that (he/she) had a right to (damage / tamper with / remove) 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 / tampered with / removed) the tangible property of (the state / a municipality / a person) for fire alarm, smoke detection and alarm, fire suppressant or police alarm purposes, 2) (he/she) did so (intentionally / recklessly), and 3) (he/she) had no reasonable ground to believe that (he/she) had a right to (damage / tamper with / remove) 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 fourth 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 If both intentional and reckless are charged in the alternative, instruct the jury that it must be unanimous as to which of the alternatives applies.
 


 

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