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Criminal Jury Instructions

Criminal Jury Instructions Home

8.3-4  Evading Responsibility -- § 14-224

Revised to December 1, 2007 (modified November 1, 2008)

The defendant is charged [in count __] with evading responsibility in the operation of a motor vehicle.  The statute defining this offense reads in pertinent as follows: 

each person operating a motor vehicle who is knowingly involved in an accident which causes <insert appropriate subsection:>

  • § 14-224 (a):  serious physical injury to or results in the death of any other person

  • § 14-224 (b):  physical injury to any other person or injury or damage to property

shall at once stop and render such assistance as may be needed and shall give (his/her) name, address and operator's license number and registration number to (the person injured / any officer or witness to the accident / the owner of the property).

For you to find the defendant guilty of this charge, the state must prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt: 1

Element 1 - Operated a motor vehicle
The first element is that the defendant operated a motor vehicle.  "Motor vehicle" means all vehicles used on a public highway and includes an automobile.

A person "operates" a motor vehicle within the meaning of the statute when, while in the vehicle, such person intentionally does any act or makes use of any mechanical or electrical agency that alone, or in sequence, will set in motion the motive power of the vehicle.  A person acts "intentionally" with respect to conduct when (his/her) conscious objective is to engage in such conduct.  <See Intent: General, Instruction 2.3-1.>

Element 2 - Knowingly involved in an accident
The second element is that the defendant was knowingly involved in an accident.  It is only necessary that the state prove that there had been an accident and the defendant knew of this accident.  It is not necessary that the state prove that the defendant had knowledge of any resulting (injury to a person / injury or damage to property).2

<See Knowledge, Instruction 2.3-3.>

Element 3 - Caused injury to person or damage to property
The third element is that the accident caused (death / serious physical injury to a person / physical injury to a person / injury or damage to property).  This means that the (death / physical injury / injury or damage to property) was the result of the accident.  <Insert appropriate definitions:>

  • "Physical injury" means impairment of physical condition or pain. 

  • "Serious physical injury" is something more serious than mere physical injury.  It is more than a minor or superficial injury.  It is defined by statute as "physical injury that creates a substantial risk of death, or that causes serious disfigurement, serious impairment of health or serious loss or impairment of the function of any bodily organ."

Element 4 - Failed to stop, render assistance and provide information
The fourth element is that the defendant did not stop at once and render assistance as needed and did not give (his/her) name, address, operator's license number and registration number to either the person injured, the owner of the property, a witness to the accident or an officer.  If for any reason or cause, the defendant was unable to provide the required information at the scene of the accident, the law requires (him/her) to immediately report the accident to a law enforcement officer or at the nearest police station.3

Conclusion

In summary, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that 1) the defendant operated a motor vehicle, 2) (he/she) knew that (he/she) had been involved in an accident, 3) the accident caused (death / serious physical injury to a person / physical injury to a person / injury or damage to property), and 4) the defendant did not stop at once and render assistance as needed and did not give (his/her) name, address, operator's license number and registration number to either the person injured, the owner of the property, a witness to the accident or an officer.

If you unanimously find that the state has proved beyond a reasonable doubt each of the elements of evading responsibility, 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 For a discussion of the elements, see State v. Goodspeed, 107 Conn. App. 717, 725-29, cert. denied, 287 Conn. 920 (2008); State v. Rosario, 81 Conn. App. 621, 634, cert. denied, 268 Conn. 923 (2004); see also State v. Perkins, 271 Conn. 218, 258 n.37 (2004).

2 See State v. Johnson, 227 Conn. 534, 545 (1993).

3 The statute provides that a person may provide the necessary information to a law enforcement officer at a location away from the scene of the accident if he or she is "unable for any reason or cause" to do so at the scene.  This does not relieve a person of the duty to stop at once and render assistance.  State v. Rosario, supra, 81 Conn. App. 627.  "The essence of the offense of evading responsibility is the failure of the driver to stop and render aid."   Id., 631.  The Court in Rosario noted that there may be situations in which "the operator's emotional state and subsequent flight from the scene are grounded in facts that could excuse his failure to stop."  Id., 628-29 n.4.  If the defendant claims that he or she left the scene of the accident in order to report the accident, the court may want to emphasize in the discussion of this element that being unable to fulfill the reporting requirements at the scene of the accident does not justify a failure to stop and render assistance.  See also State v. Lawson, 99 Conn. App. 233, 243-46, cert. denied, 282 Conn. 901 (2007) (court's instruction accurately defined the requirements of the statute).

Commentary

It is immaterial whether the defendant was at fault for the accident.  State v. Richter, 3 Conn. Cir. Ct. 99, 101 (1964).  This statute applies regardless of whether the accident occurred on public or private property.  State v. Tuckus, 4 Conn. Cir. Ct. 495, 500 (1967).

See General Statutes § 14-107 (b), which provides that "[w]henever there occurs a violation of section . . . 14-224 . . . proof of the registration number of any motor vehicle therein concerned shall be prima facie evidence in any criminal action . . . that the owner was the operator thereof, except in the case of a leased or rented motor vehicle, such proof shall be prima facie evidence in any criminal action that the lessee was the operator thereof."

Subsequent offenders
General Statutes § 14-224 (g) provides for an enhanced sentence if the defendant has previously been convicted of one or more violations of § 14-224.  Pursuant to Practice Book § 36-14, the prior conviction must be charged in a Part B information so that the jury is unaware of the prior conviction during the trial on the current charge. If a guilty verdict is returned, the jury must then be instructed on the second part of the information. See Subsequent Offenders, Instruction 2.12-2.
 


 

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