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Criminal Jury Instructions

Criminal Jury Instructions Home

6.1-1  Assault in the First Degree (Deadly Weapon or Dangerous Instrument) -- § 53a-59 (a) (1)

Revised to April 23, 2010

The defendant is charged [in count ___] with assault in the first degree.  The statute defining this offense reads in pertinent part as follows: 

a person is guilty of assault in the first degree when with intent to cause serious physical injury to another person, (he/she) causes such injury to such person or to a third person by means of a deadly weapon or a dangerous instrument.

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

Element 1 - Intent to cause serious physical injury
The first element is that the defendant intended to cause serious physical injury to another person.  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.>
 

"Serious physical injury" is something more serious than mere physical injury, which is defined as "impairment of physical condition or pain."  It is more than a minor or superficial injury.  It is defined by statute 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."

Element 2 - Caused serious physical injury
The second element is that, acting with that intent, the defendant caused serious physical injury to <insert name of person injured>.  This means that the defendant's conduct was the proximate cause of the person's injuries.  You must find it proved beyond a reasonable doubt that <insert name of person injured> was seriously injured as a result of the actions of the defendant.  <See Proximate Cause, Instruction 2.6-1.>

[<If person injured was not the person intended:>  It does not matter whether <insert name of person injured> was the person upon whom the defendant intended to inflict serious physical injury.  It is sufficient if you find that the defendant intended to cause serious physical injury to another person and that (he/she) in fact caused serious physical injury to that person or to some other person.]

Element 3 - With deadly weapon or dangerous instrument
The third element is that the defendant caused that injury by means of a (deadly weapon / dangerous instrument).  <Insert the appropriate definition:

  • "Deadly weapon" means any weapon, whether loaded or unloaded, from which a shot may be discharged, or a switchblade knife, gravity knife, billy, blackjack, bludgeon, or metal knuckles.  If the weapon is a firearm, it may be unloaded, but it must be in such condition that a shot may be discharged from it.  Thus, if the weapon is loaded but not in working order, it is not a deadly weapon.  If the weapon is unloaded but in working order, it is a deadly weapon.

  • "Dangerous instrument" means any instrument, article or substance which, under the circumstances in which it is used or attempted or threatened to be used, is capable of causing death or serious physical injury. "Serious physical injury" means 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 important to note that the article need not be inherently dangerous; all that is required is that the article was capable of causing death or serious physical injury under the circumstances in which it was used.  Any article or substance, without limitation and even though harmless under normal use, may be found by you to be a dangerous instrument if, under the circumstances of its use or threatened or attempted use, it is capable of producing serious physical injury or death.  The state need not prove that in fact death or serious physical injury resulted, only that the instrument had that potential under the circumstances.

Conclusion

In summary, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that 1) the defendant had the specific intent to cause serious physical injury to <insert name of person injured>, 2) the defendant did cause serious physical injury to <insert name of person injured>, and 3) the defendant caused the injury by means of a (deadly weapon / dangerous instrument). 

If you unanimously find that the state has proved beyond a reasonable doubt each of the elements of the crime of assault in the first 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.

Commentary

Sentence Enhancer
Section 53a-59 (b) provides an enhanced penalty if the victim is either under 10 years of age or a witness if the defendant knew the victim was a witness.  The jury must find this fact proved beyond a reasonable doubt.  See Sentence Enhancers, Instruction 2.11-4.
 


 

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