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Criminal Jury Instructions

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9.5-9  Criminal Mischief in the Fourth Degree -- § 53a-117a (a) (1)

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 or tampers with any fire hydrant or hydrant system owned by (the state / a municipality / a fire district / a 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 fire hydrant
The first element is that the defendant damaged or tampered with a fire hydrant or hydrant system owned by (the state / a municipality / a fire district / a private water company).  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 or tampering with the fire hydrant or hydrant system.  <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 or tamper with the fire hydrant or hydrant system.  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 a fire hydrant or hydrant system, 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 or tamper with the fire hydrant or hydrant system.

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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