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Criminal Jury Instructions

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2.3-1  Intent: General and Specific -- 53a-3 (11)

Revised to December 1, 2007

Intent relates to the condition of mind of the person who commits the act, his or her purpose in doing it.  The law recognizes two types of intent, general intent and specific intent.

General intent
General intent is the intent to engage in conduct.  Thus, in this case, it is not necessary for the state to prove that the defendant intended the precise harm or the precise result which eventuated.  Rather, the state is required to prove that the defendant intentionally and not inadvertently or accidentally engaged in (his/her) actions.  In other words, the state must prove that the defendant's actions were intentional, voluntary and knowing rather than unintentional, involuntary and unknowing.

Specific intent
Specific intent is the intent to achieve a specific result.  A person acts "intentionally" with respect to a result when (his/her) conscious objective is to cause such result.  What the defendant intended is a question of fact for you to determine.  <See Evidence of Intent, Instruction 2.3-2.>

<Court may insert example to illustrate the difference.> 

[<If both general and specific intent crimes have been charged:>

The concept of specific intent applies to count(s) _____. 

The concept of general intent applies to count(s) _____.]


It is improper to read the entire statutory definition of intent when instructing on a specific intent crime.  State v. Holmes, 75 Conn. App. 721, 737 (2003), cert. denied, 264 Conn. 903 (2003); State v. DeBarros, 58 Conn. App. 673, 684, cert. denied, 254 Conn. 931 (2000).

"[T]he difference between general and specific intent [is defined] as follows:  'When the elements of a crime consist of a description of a particular act and a mental element not specific in nature, the only issue is whether the defendant intended to do the proscribed act.  If he did so intend, he has the requisite general intent for culpability.  When the elements of a crime include a defendant's intent to achieve some result additional to the act, the additional language distinguishes the crime from those of general intent and makes it one requiring a specific intent.'"  State v. Shine, 193 Conn. 632, 638 (1984).


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