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Criminal Jury Instructions

Criminal Jury Instructions Home

6.4-1  Robbery in the First Degree -- 53a-134

Revised to May 10, 2012

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

a person is guilty of robbery in the first degree when, in the course of the commission of the crime of robbery or of immediate flight therefrom, (he/she) or another participant in the crime <insert appropriate subsection:>

  • 53a- 134 (a) (1):  causes serious physical injury to any person who is not a participant in the crime.

  • 53a- 134 (a) (2):  is armed with a deadly weapon.

  • 53a- 134 (a) (3):  uses or threatens the use of a dangerous instrument.

  • 53a- 134 (a) (4):  displays or threatens the use of what (he/she) represents by (his/her) words or conduct to be a pistol, revolver, rifle, shotgun, machine gun or other firearm."

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

Element 1 - Committed robbery
The first element is that the defendant committed a robbery.  <Insert the elements from Robbery in the Third Degree, Instruction 6.4-3.>

Element 2 - Additional factor
The second element is that in the course of the commission of the robbery or immediate flight from the crime, the defendant or another participant in the crime <insert as appropriate:>

  • 53a- 134 (a) (1):  caused serious physical injury to any person who was not a participant in the crime.  "Serious physical injury" means more than "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 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. 

  • 53a- 134 (a) (2):  was armed with a deadly weapon.  "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.  The word "armed" simply requires that the weapon be in the defendant's possession.

  • 53a- 134 (a) (3):  used or threatened the use of a dangerous instrument.  "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.

  • 53a- 134 (a) (4):  displayed or threatened the use of what (he/she) represented by words or conduct to be a pistol, revolver, rifle, shotgun, machine gun or other firearm.  It is not required that the defendant actually have such a weapon.  (He/She) need only represent by words or conduct that (he/she) is so armed to be guilty of the crime of robbery in the first degree.  It is sufficient if the other person is made to believe that the object is such a weapon or if the defendant holds or wraps the object in such a way as to create the impression that (he/she) is holding a firearm.

"Immediate flight" means that it occurred so close in point of time to the commission of the robbery as to become part of the robbery.  The law does not require that the (weapon / dangerous instrument) be used or employed for any particular purpose or object.

[<Include if there were multiple participants in the robbery:>  If any person who participated in the crime (caused serious physical injury / was armed with a deadly weapon / used or threatened to use a dangerous instrument /  displayed or threatened the use of what (he/she) represented by words or conduct to be a pistol, revolver, rifle, shotgun, machine gun or other firearm) while in immediate flight from the crime, then all participants in the robbery would be just as guilty of first degree robbery as if they had themselves actually done so.1]

Conclusion

In summary, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that <insert the concluding summary from the instruction for robbery in the third degree>, and that <insert the additional factor>.

If you unanimously find that the state has proved beyond a reasonable doubt each of the elements of the crime of robbery 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.
_______________________________________________________

1 The language of 53a-134 ("or another participant in the crime") "applies to principals and accessories on its face, so the court need not explain the concept of accessorial liability as it relates to the robbery charge."  State v. Davis, 255 Conn. 782, 791 n.8 (2001).

Commentary

Armed with a deadly weapon
Under subsection (a) (2), "it is not necessary for a weapon to be exhibited, displayed or referred to in order for a person to be considered 'armed.'  The word 'armed' simply requires that a weapon be in that person's possession."  State v. Tinsley, 181 Conn. 388, 399-400 (1980), cert. denied, 449 U.S. 1086, 101 S.Ct. 874, 66 L.Ed.2d 811 (1981), overruled on other grounds, State v. Pinnock, 220 Conn. 765, 788 (1992).  Under subsection (a) (2), the state must prove that the firearm used was, in fact, a deadly weapon, capable of firing a shot, but not that the defendant actually discharged it.  State v. Torres, 24 Conn. App. 316, 325, cert. denied, 218 Conn. 911 (1991).

Uses or threatens to use a dangerous instrument
Under subsection (a) (3), the defendant must have used or threatened the use of a dangerous instrument.  See State v. Dumas, 54 Conn. App. 780, 786-87, cert. denied, 252 Conn. 903 (1999) (knife used was capable of causing death or serious physical injury).  "That the victim did not feel threatened by the stick is . . . irrelevant, particularly since the stick was actually used.  Furthermore, it is not necessary, under either the definition of first degree robbery or under the definition of a dangerous instrument, that any physical injury actually have been inflicted.  It was only necessary that the stick have been 'under the circumstances in which it [was] used . . . capable of causing death or serious physical injury.'  We cannot state as a matter of law that a hockey stick when used to hit an elderly man is not a dangerous weapon."  State v. Jones, 173 Conn. 91, 95 (1977). 

Displays or threatens what is represented as a firearm
Under subsection (a) (4), the defendant must have represented by words or conduct that he or she had a firearm.  A defendant need not actually have a firearm.  See State v. Sparks, 39 Conn. App. 502, 512-14 (1995); State v. Lanier, 39 Conn. App. 478, 483-85, cert. denied, 235 Conn. 931 (1995).  "In determining whether the defendant threatened to use what he represented by words or conduct to be a firearm, the test is not whether the defendant actually had a firearm . . . but whether he displayed or threatened the use of what he represented by his conduct to be a firearm."  (Internal quotation marks omitted.)  State v. St. Pierre, 58 Conn. App. 284, 288, cert. denied, 254 Conn. 916 (2000).

This subsection does not require the state to prove that any firearm displayed be operable, because it does not require that the defendant actually have a gun at all. State v. Hawthorne, 175 Conn. 569, 573 (1978). However, the subsection contains an affirmative defense that such pistol, revolver, rifle, shotgun, machine gun or other firearm was not a weapon from which a shot could be discharged," which is similar to the affirmative defense found in 53a-16a. If the defendant raises this defense, see Inoperability of Firearm, Instruction 2.9-3.

Sentence Enhancer
General Statutes 53a-136a provides a sentence enhancement if the robbery involved a carjacking.  See Sentence enhancer: Carjacking in the Introduction to Robbery.
 


 

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