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Criminal Jury Instructions

Criminal Jury Instructions Home

2.8-7  Use of Physical Force by Private Person at the Request of a Peace Officer in Making Arrest or Preventing Escape -- § 53a-22 (d)

Revised to December 1, 2007

The evidence in this case raises the defense that the defendant, as a private citizen, was justified in the use of physical force because (he/she) was acting at the direction of a peace officer in (making an arrest / preventing an escape).  This defense applies to the charge[s] of <insert applicable crimes> [and the lesser included offense[s] of <insert lesser included offenses>.]

After you have considered all of the evidence in this case, if you find that the state has proved each element of <insert applicable crimes and any lesser included offenses>, you must go on to consider whether or not the defendant was justified in (his/her) use of force.

When, as in this case, evidence of justification is introduced at trial, the state must not only prove beyond a reasonable doubt all the elements of the crime charged to obtain a conviction, but must also disprove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was justified in (his/her) use of force.  If the state fails to disprove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was not justified, you must find the defendant not guilty of <insert applicable crimes and any lesser included offenses> despite the fact that you have found the elements of (that crime / those crimes) proved beyond a reasonable doubt.  The defendant has no burden of proof whatsoever with respect to his defense of justification.

The law allows a private citizen to use force to (make an arrest / prevent an escape) at the direction of a peace officer.  When a person is directed to assist a peace officer in (making an arrest / preventing an escape), that person is justified in using reasonable physical force to carry out that task.  The statute defining this defense reads in pertinent part: 

a person who has been directed by a (peace officer / special policeman / authorized official of the department of correction or the board of pardons and paroles) to assist (him/her) to (effect an arrest / prevent an escape from custody) is justified in using reasonable physical force when and to the extent that (he/she) reasonably believes such to be necessary to carry out the officer's direction. 

Deadly and non-deadly physical force
The first determination you must make is what degree of force the defendant used.  The law distinguishes non-deadly physical force from deadly physical force.  "Physical force" means actual physical force or violence or superior physical strength.  The term "deadly physical force" is defined by statute as physical force which can reasonably be expected to cause death or serious physical injury.  Under this definition, the physical force used by the defendant need not actually have caused a death or a serious physical injury in order to be considered deadly physical force, nor need it have been expected or intended by the defendant to result in such serious consequences. Instead, what determines whether the defendant used deadly physical force is whether the force actually used by the defendant could reasonably have been expected to cause death or serious physical injury. "Physical injury" is defined by statute as impairment of physical condition or pain, and "serious physical injury" is defined as physical injury which creates a substantial risk of death, or which causes serious disfigurement, serious impairment of health or serious loss or impairment of the function of any bodily organ.

It is up to you to determine whether the defendant used deadly physical force or non-deadly physical force against <insert name of the other person>.  You are to make that determination after considering all the evidence.  If the state claims that the defendant used deadly physical force, the state must prove that beyond a reasonable doubt.  The first question you must resolve is whether the level of force used by the defendant rises to the level of deadly physical force, or is some lower degree of physical force. 

To convict the defendant of <insert applicable crimes>, the state must disprove beyond a reasonable doubt one of the following elements: 

Element 1 - Directed by an officer
The first element is that the defendant was actually directed by an officer to (arrest another person / prevent another person from escaping).  Note that no precise words of command are required so long as the direction for assistance is reasonably evident from the language used. 

Element 2 - Actual belief that physical force was necessary
The second element is that the defendant actually -- that is, honestly and sincerely -- believed that the physical force (he/she) used was necessary to carry out the officer's directions. 

Element 3 - Reasonableness of belief
The third element is that the defendant's belief was reasonable.  Note that in assessing the reasonableness of the defendant's belief, it is not relevant whether the peace officer was mistaken in pursuing the person (being arrested / whose escape is sought to be prevented), or whether the person was later acquitted of the crimes for which (he/she) was being pursued and arrested.  A private person acting at the direction of a peace officer will be justified in using a reasonable degree of force if (he/she) were actually directed to (arrest another person / prevent another person from escaping) by a peace officer and the force used was reasonable.

A reasonable degree of force is that degree of force that a reasonable person in the same circumstances viewed from the perspective of the defendant would use and no more.  If the degree of force used is excessive or unreasonable in view of all the circumstances, the defendant is not entitled to this defense.  Whether the defendant had the requisite belief and whether the defendant's belief was reasonable and whether the degree of force (he/she) used was reasonable are questions of fact for you to determine from the evidence in the case to apply.

If you have found that the defendant used deadly physical force, your determination of the reasonableness of the belief that deadly physical force was necessary under the circumstances has further limitations.  The defendant is justified in using deadly physical force only to counter deadly physical force or what (he/she) reasonably believes to be the imminent use of deadly physical force.  This is a decision the person may make on (his/her) own judgment, or at the direction of the peace officer.  But in either case, (his/her) actions must be reasonable under the circumstances.  If the defendant  knows that the peace officer (himself/herself) is not authorized to use deadly physical force under the circumstances, then the defendant is not justified in following the peace officer's direction to employ deadly physical force and the defendant will be liable for the result of (his/her) actions.

Conclusion

You must remember that the defendant has no burden of proof whatsoever with respect to this defense.  Instead, it is the state which must disprove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was justified in using physical force if it is to prevail on its charge[s] of <insert applicable crimes>[, or of any of the lesser-included offenses on which you have been instructed].  The state need not disprove all of the elements of the defense.  Instead, it can defeat the defense by disproving any one of the elements of the defense beyond a reasonable doubt to your unanimous satisfaction.

If you unanimously find that the state has not proved beyond a reasonable doubt all of the elements of <insert applicable crimes>, then you must find the defendant not guilty and not consider (his/her) defense.

If you unanimously find that all the elements of <insert applicable crimes and any lesser included offenses> have been proved beyond a reasonable doubt, you shall then consider the defense.  If you unanimously find that the state has disproved beyond a reasonable doubt at least one of the elements of the defense, you must reject that defense and return a verdict of guilty.

If, on the other hand, you unanimously find that the state has not disproved beyond a reasonable doubt at least one of the elements of the defense, then on the strength of that defense alone you must find the defendant not guilty of <insert applicable crimes> despite the fact that you have found the elements of (that crime / those crimes) proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
 


 

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