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Criminal Jury Instructions

Criminal Jury Instructions Home

9.5-4  Criminal Mischief in the First Degree -- § 53a-115 (a) (4)

Revised to December 1, 2007

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 an interruption or impairment of service rendered to the public and having no reasonable ground to believe that such person has a right to do so, such person damages or tampers with <insert as appropriate:>

  • any tangible property owned by the state, a municipality or a person for fire alarm or police alarm purposes.

  • any telecommunication system operated by the state police or a municipal police department.

  • any emergency medical or fire service dispatching system.

  • any fire suppression equipment owned by the state, a municipality, a person or a fire district.

  • any fire hydrant or hydrant system owned by the state or a municipality, a person, fire district or private water company.

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

Element 1 - Damaged or tampered with property
The first element is that the defendant damaged or tampered with <insert as appropriate:>

  • tangible property owned by the state, a municipality or a person for fire alarm or police alarm purposes.

  • a telecommunication system operated by the state police or a municipal police department.

  • an emergency medical or fire service dispatching system.

  • fire suppression equipment owned by the state, a municipality, a person or a fire district.

  • a fire hydrant or hydrant system owned by the state or a municipality, a person, fire district or private water company.

To "damage" means to cause harm to the property.  To "tamper with" means to physically interfere with.

Element 2 - Intent
The second element is that the defendant intended to cause an interruption or impairment of service rendered to the public.  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 3 - No right
The third element is that the defendant had no reasonable ground to believe that (he/she) had a right to damage or tamper with 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 or tampered with <identify property>, 2) (he/she) intended to cause interruption or impairment of service rendered to the public, and 3) (he/she) had no reasonable ground to believe that (he/she) had a right to damage or tamper with 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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