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Criminal Jury Instructions

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4.5-4  Intimidating a Witness -- § 53a-151a

Revised to April 23, 2010

The defendant is charged [in count ___] with intimidating a witness.  The statute defining this offense reads in pertinent part as follows: 

a person is guilty of intimidating a witness when, believing that an official proceeding is pending or about to be instituted, such person (uses / attempts to use / threatens the use of) physical force against (a witness / another person) with intent to <insert appropriate subsection:>

  • § 53a-151a (a) (1):  (influence / delay / prevent) the testimony of a witness in the official proceeding. 

  • § 53a-151a (a) (2):  induce the witness to (testify falsely / withhold testimony / elude legal process summoning the witness to testify / absent (himself / herself) from the official proceeding). 

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

Element 1 - Official proceeding
The first element is that the defendant believed that there was an official proceeding pending or about to be instituted.  An "official proceeding" is any proceeding held or which may be held before any legislature, judicial, administrative, or other agency or official authorized to take evidence under oath, including any referee, hearing examiner, commissioner, or notary, or other person taking evidence in connection with any proceeding.  

Element 2 - Physical force
The second element is that the defendant (used / attempted to use / threatened the use of) physical force against (a witness / another person).  <Insert appropriate definition:>

  • "Witness" is any person summoned, or who may be summoned to give testimony in an official proceeding.

  • "Person" is defined as a human being and where appropriate, a public or private corporation, a limited liability company, or unincorporated association, a partnership, a government or governmental instrumentality.

<Instruct as appropriate according to the type of force alleged:>

  • Use of force
    "Use of force" means use of a dangerous instrument, or use of actual physical force, or violence, or superior physical strength against the witness or another person.  ["Dangerous instrument"
    means any instrument, article or substance which, under the circumstances in which it is used or attempted or threatened to be used, is capable of causing death or serious physical injury.  "Serious physical injury" means physical injury which creates a substantial risk of death, or which causes serious disfigurement, serious impairment of health or serious loss or impairment of the function of any bodily organ.  It is important to note that the article need not be inherently dangerous; all that is required is that the article was capable of causing death or serious physical injury under the circumstances in which it was used.  Any article or substance, without limitation and even though harmless under normal use, may be found by you to be a dangerous instrument if, under the circumstances of its use or threatened or attempted use, it is capable of producing serious physical injury or death.  The state need not prove that in fact death or serious physical injury resulted, only that the instrument had that potential under the circumstances.]  It is not necessary for the state to prove that the defendant was armed with or used any weapon for you to find that the defendant used force. 

  • Threatened use of force
    You may find a threat of use of force because you find that a threat was actually expressed, or you may find a threat implied from the circumstances and from what you find to have been the defendant's conduct.  Any such threat must have been such that it reasonably caused the person to fear physical injury to (herself/himself).  "Physical injury" means impairment of physical condition or pain.  Whether the fear of physical injury was reasonable is a question of fact for you to determine from the circumstance that you find existed at the time.  [For example, any injury inflicted, relative sizes, place of occurrence, etc.]

[In this case, the state has charged that the defendant both used force and threatened the use of force.  These are two methods by which compulsion may be demonstrated and proven.  The element will be established as long as each of you finds proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant either used force or threatened the use of force against the person.  Simply put, it is not necessary for the state to prove that the defendant both used force and threatened the use of force, as long as each one of you is satisfied that (he/she) either used force or threatened the use of force.]

Element 3 - Intent
The third element is that the use, attempt to use or threat to use physical force was with the intent to <insert as appropriate:>

  • (influence / delay / prevent) the testimony of a witness in the official proceeding.

  • induce the witness to (testify falsely / withhold testimony / elude legal process summoning the witness to testify / absent (himself / herself) from the official proceeding).  <The term "legal process summoning the witness to testify" should to be tailored to the specific facts of the case.>

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.>

"Influence," "delay," and "prevent" have their ordinary meanings.  "Induce" means to move to action by persuasion or by influence.  

Conclusion

In summary, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that 1) the defendant believed that an official proceeding was pending or about to be initiated, 2) the defendant (used / attempted to use / threatened to use) physical force against (a witness / another person), and 3) by such conduct the defendant intended to <insert specific allegations against defendant>.

If you unanimously find that the state has proved beyond a reasonable doubt each of the elements of the crime of intimidating a witness, 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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