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Criminal Jury Instructions

Criminal Jury Instructions Home

8.2-8  Criminal Possession of a Firearm or Electronic Defense Weapon -- § 53a-217

Revised to November 6, 2014

The defendant is charged [in count __] with criminal possession of (a firearm / ammunition / an electronic defense weapon).  The statute defining this offense reads in pertinent part as follows:

a person is guilty of criminal possession of (a firearm / ammunition / an electronic defense weapon) when such person possesses (a firearm / ammunition / an electronic defense weapon) and <insert as appropriate:>

  • § 53a-217 (a) (1):  has been convicted of (a felony / certain misdemeanors, including <insert alleged misdemeanor>).1 

  • § 53a-217 (a) (2):  has been convicted as delinquent for the commission of a serious juvenile offense.2
  • § 53a-217 (a) (3):  had been discharged from custody within the preceding twenty years after having been found not guilty of a crime by reason of mental disease or defect.
  • § 53a-217 (a) (4):  knows that (he/she) is subject to <insert one of the following:>
    • (A):  a restraining or protective order of a court of this state that has been issued against (him/her), after notice and an opportunity to be heard has been provided to (him/her), in a case involving the use, attempted use or threatened use of physical force against another person.
    • (B):  a foreign order of protection3 that has been issued against (him/her) in a case involving the use, attempted use or threatened use of physical force against another person.
  • § 53a-217 (a) (5) (A):  was confined in a hospital for persons with psychiatric disabilities within the preceding sixty months by order of a probate court, [on or after October 1, 2013,] and the person has a valid permit or certificate to carry  a pistol or revolver.4 A "hospital for psychiatric disabilities" means any public or private hospital, retreat, institution, house or place in which any mentally ill person is received or detained as a patient, but does not include any correctional institution of this state.
  • § 53a-217 (a) (5) (B):  was voluntarily admitted [on or after October 1, 2013] to a hospital for persons with psychiatric disabilities within the preceding six months for care and treatment of a psychiatric disability and not solely for being an alcohol-dependent person or a drug-dependent person. A "hospital for psychiatric disabilities" means any public or private hospital, retreat, institution, house or place in which any mentally ill person is received or detained as a patient, but does not include any correctional institution of this state.
  • § 53a-217 (a) (6):  knows that such person is subject to a firearms seizure order issued after notice and an opportunity to be heard has been provided to such person.5

  • § 53a-217 (a) (7):  is prohibited from shipping, transporting, possessing or receiving a firearm pursuant to federal law.6

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

Element 1 - Possessed firearm, ammunition or electronic defense weapon
The first element is that the defendant possessed (a firearm / ammunition / an electronic defense weapon).  <Insert the appropriate definition(s):>

  • A "firearm" means any sawed-off shotgun, machine gun, rifle, shotgun, pistol, revolver or other weapon, whether loaded or unloaded, from which a shot may be discharged.  You must find that the firearm was operable at the time the defendant possessed it.7

  • "Ammunition" means a loaded cartridge, consisting of a primed case, propellant or projectile, designed for use in any firearm.

  • An "electronic defense weapon" means a weapon that by electronic impulse or current is capable of immobilizing a person temporarily, but is not capable of inflicting death or serious physical injury.

“Possession" means either actual possession or constructive possession.  Actual possession means actual physical possession, such as having the object on one's person.  Constructive possession means having the object in a place under one's dominion and control.

Possession also requires that the defendant knew that (he/she) was in possession of the firearm.  That is, that (he/she) was aware that (he/she) was in possession of it and was aware of its nature.  The state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant knew that (he/she) was in possession of the firearm.  <See Knowledge, Instruction 2.3-3.>

<If some form of constructive possession is alleged, see Possession, Instruction 2.11-1.>8

Element 2 - Possession prohibited
The second element is that at the time (he/she) possessed the (firearm / electronic defense weapon), (he/she) was prohibited from possessing (a firearm / an electronic defense weapon) because (he/she) <insert specific allegations and tailor to facts and evidence>.9

Conclusion

In summary, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that 1) the defendant possessed (a firearm / ammunition / an electronic defense weapon), and 2) (he/she) was prohibited from possessing (a firearm / ammunition / an electronic defense weapon) at the time because <insert specific allegations>.

If you unanimously find that the state has proved beyond a reasonable doubt each of the elements of the crime of criminal possession of (a firearm / ammunition / an electronic defense weapon), 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 Effective October 1, 2013, the statute includes the following misdemeanors:

  • § 21a-279 (c), Possession of a controlled substance
  • § 53a-58, Criminally negligent homicide
  • § 53a-61, Assault in the third degree
  • § 53a-61a, Assault of an elderly, blind, disabled or pregnant person or a person with intellectual disability in the third degree
  • § 53a-62, Threatening in the second degree 
  • § 53a-63, Reckless endangerment in the first degree
  • § 53a-96, Unlawful restraint in the second degree
  • § 53a-175, Riot in the first degree
  • § 53a-176, Riot in the second degree
  • § 53a-178, Inciting to riot
  • § 53a-181d, Stalking in the second degree

2 As defined in General Statutes § 46b-120 (3).

3 As defined in General Statutes § 46b-15a.

4 The statute specifies a carrying permit issued pursuant to General Statutes § 29-28 (b), a retail sales permit issued pursuant to General Statutes § 29-28 (a), or an eligibility certificate issued pursuant to General Statutes § 29-36f.  

5 Pursuant to General Statutes § 29-38c (d).

6 18 U.S.C. § 922 (g) (4).

7 The definition of "firearm" as found in General Statutes § 53a-3 (19), which applies to this offense, requires that the firearm be operable.

8 Ascertain from counsel what form of possession is alleged.  The definition should be narrowly tailored to the allegations.

9 Parties often will stipulate to the reason why the defendant is prohibited from possessing a firearm.  See Stipulations, Instruction 2.6-9.


 


 

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