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Criminal Jury Instructions

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9.3-3 Arson in the Second Degree -- § 53a-112 (a) (2)

Revised to December 1, 2007 (modified June 13, 2008)

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

a person is guilty of arson in the second degree when, with intent to destroy or damage a building, a fire or explosion was caused by an individual hired by such person to start such fire or cause such explosion.

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

Element 1 - Intent
The first element is that the defendant specifically intended to destroy or damage a building.1 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.>

Ordinarily, "building" implies a structure that may be entered and used by people, as a residence or for business, or for other purposes involving occupancy by people, whether or not it is actually entered and used as such. <Insert one or both of the following parts of the definition as appropriate:>

  • The law has expanded this definition to include, in addition to what we ordinarily know as a building, any watercraft, aircraft, trailer, sleeping car, railroad car, other structure or vehicle or any building with a valid certificate of occupancy.

  • The statutory definition also provides that where a building consists of separate units, such as, but not limited to separate apartments, offices or rented rooms, any unit not occupied by the defendant is, in addition to being a part of such building, a separate building.

Element 2 - Hired another person
The second element is that the defendant hired another person to carry out that intent. The state alleges that the defendant hired <insert name of other person>.

Element 3 - Started or caused fire or explosion2
The third element is that <insert name of other person> started a fire or caused an explosion. To "start" means to commence. To "cause an act to be done" is to bring it about. The fire started need not be a tremendous one. The mere striking of a match can be the start of a fire. The fire or explosion must be incendiary in origin. That is, it must not be accidental or caused by carelssness.  In considering whether the fire or explosion was incendiary in origin, you may rely upon all the facts and circumstances at the time and place of the fire or explosion, as you find them to have been proved, and may draw any reasonable or logical inferences from such facts. The mere fact that there was fire or explosion damage to a building does not create an inference that its origin was incendiary.

Conclusion

In summary, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that 1) the defendant intended to destroy or damage <identify the building>, 2) the defendant hired <insert name of other person>, and 3) <insert name of other person> started the fire or caused the explosion.

If you unanimously find that the state has proved beyond a reasonable doubt each of the elements of the crime of arson in the second 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 State v. Dubose, 75 Conn. App. 163, 174-75, cert. denied, 263 Conn. 909 (2003).

2 State v. Houle, 105 Conn. App. 813, 818 n.4 (2008) (on the meaning of incendiary); State v. Gaines, 36 Conn. App. 454, 458-59 (1995) (on the meaning of "causing a fire").

Commentary

Arson for hire is complete when the defendant solicits another to set fire to a building. State v. Servello, 59 Conn. App. 362, 370, cert. denied, 254 Conn. 940 (2000) (describing the elements of attempt to commit arson in the second degree and reviewing the legislative history of this section).
 


 

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