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Criminal Jury Instructions

Criminal Jury Instructions Home

4.3-5  Interference with a Search -- 54-33d

New, April 23, 2010 (modified April 23, 2013)

The defendant is charged [in count __] with interfering with a search.  The statute defining this offense imposes punishment on any person who forcibly assaults, resists, opposes, impedes, intimidates or interferes with any person authorized to serve or execute search warrants or to make searches and seizures while engaged in the performance of (his/her) duties with regard thereto or on account of the performance of such duties.

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

Element 1 - Interfered with authorized search
The first element is that the defendant forcibly assaulted, resisted, opposed, impeded, intimidated or interfered with a person authorized to serve or execute search warrants or to make searches and seizures.  Certain persons are authorized by statute1 to serve and execute search warrants and to conduct searches and seizures.  Among those authorized are <insert as appropriate:>

  • any police officer of a regularly organized police department,

  • any state police officer,

  • an inspector in the Division of Criminal Justice,

  • a conservation officer, special conservation officer or patrolman.

You must find that <insert name of officer> was <identify type of officer>.

 The defendant must have forcibly assaulted, forcibly resisted, forcibly opposed, forcibly impeded, forcibly intimidated or forcibly interfered with <insert name of officer>. 

There are six verbs describing how this offense may be committed.  You need only find that the defendant's conduct fits the definition of one of these words, but they are all modified with the word "forcibly."  "Forcibly" means actual physical force or violence or superior physical strength against another person.  "Assault" means to attack another person, either physically or verbally, causing the other person to fear immediate harm.  "Resist" means to oppose actively, to fight, argue or work against.  "Oppose" means to be against.  "Impede" means to prevent action.  "Intimidate" means to make afraid, or to deter with threats or violence.  "Interfere" means to prevent or hinder.  

Element 2 - In the performance of duties
The second element is that the conduct of the defendant occurred while <insert name of officer> was acting in the performance of (his/her) duties or on account of the performance of those duties.  This means that the conduct of the officer, which the defendant allegedly interfered with, was within the scope of what (he/she) is employed to do, and was related to <insert name of officer>'s official duties in serving and executing the search warrant or conducting the search and seizure.  The question of whether (he/she) was acting in good faith within (his/her) official duties is a factual question for you to determine based on the evidence in the case.  <Summarize evidence if appropriate.>

It does not matter if the search and seizure itself was not legally authorized, as long as the officer had a good faith belief that he was serving and executing a valid search warrant or conducting an authorized search.  A person is not permitted to interfere with the service and execution of a search warrant or a search conducted by an authorized person even if the person sincerely believes that the search and seizure is wrongful.2

It is necessary, however, that the person being searched knows or should know that the other person is an authorized person.3

An authorized person serving and executing a search warrant or conducting a search and seizure is justified in using physical force, but only so much as (he/she) reasonably believes is necessary to serve and execute the warrant or conduct the search.  If you find that any force used by the <insert name of officer> was more than <insert name of officer> reasonably believed was necessary, then (his/her) conduct was outside the scope of what (he/she) was authorized to do.

So to find that the officer was acting in or on account of the performance of (his/her) duties, you must find that <insert name of person searched> knew or should have known that <insert name of officer> was authorized to serve and execute the search warrant or to conduct the search, that <insert name of officer> was acting in good faith as an officer serving and executing the warrant or conducting the search, and that (he/she) used no more physical force than was reasonably necessary to carry out (his/her) duties.

Element 3 - Intent to interfere
The third element is that the defendant acted with the specific intent to interfere with the officer in the service and execution of the warrant or the conduct of the search and seizure.3  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.>

Conclusion

In summary, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that 1) the defendant forcibly assaulted, forcibly resisted, forcibly opposed, forcibly impeded, forcibly intimidated or forcibly interfered with <insert name of officer>, 2) while <insert name of officer> was serving and executing a search warrant or conducting a search and seizure within the scope of (his/her) official duties, and 3) the defendant specifically intended to interfere with <insert name of officer>.

If you unanimously find that the state has proved beyond a reasonable doubt each of the elements of the crime of interfering with a search, 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 General Statutes 54-33a (c) (search warrants); 51-286 (b) (chief inspectors); 26-6 (b) (conservation officers, special conservation officers and patrolmen).

2 State v. Browne, 291 Conn. 720, 741 n.16 (2009).

3 State v. Woolcock, 201 Conn. 605, 628-32 (1986); State v. Ramirez, 61 Conn. App. 865, 874 (2001).

Commentary

A person does not have the right to an attorney before the execution of a search warrant.  United States v. Bullock, 73 Fed. 3d 171, 173 (5th Cir. 1995).

 


 

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