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Criminal Jury Instructions

Criminal Jury Instructions Home

9.5-2  Criminal Mischief in the First Degree -- § 53a-115 (a) (2)

Revised to December 1, 2007

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

a person is guilty of criminal mischief in the first degree when with intent to cause an interruption or impairment of service rendered to the public and having no reasonable ground to believe that such person has a right to do so, such person damages or tampers with tangible property of a (utility / mode of public transportation, power or communication), and thereby causes an interruption or impairment of service rendered to the public.

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

Element 1 – Damaged or tampered with property
The first element is that the defendant damaged or tampered with tangible property of a (utility / mode of public transportation, power or communication).  "Tangible" means that the property is something that can be felt and seen.  To "damage" means to harm.  To "tamper with" means to physically interfere with the property. 

Element 2 - Caused interruption or impairment
The second element is that the defendant caused an interruption or impairment of service to the public.  To cause means to bring about or to be a substantial factor, from which the interruption or impairment of service follows as a natural, direct and immediate consequence.  The terms "interruption" and "impairment" should be given their ordinary meanings.

Element 3 - Intent
The third element is that the defendant intended to cause an interruption or impairment of a service that <insert name of complainant> renders to the public.  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.>

Element 4 - No right
The fourth element is that the defendant had no reasonable ground to believe that (he/she) had a right to damage or tamper with the property.  A "reasonable ground to believe" means that a reasonable person in the defendant's situation, viewing the circumstances from the defendant's point of view, would have shared that belief.

Conclusion

In summary, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that 1) the defendant damaged or tampered with the tangible property of a (utility / mode of public transportation, power or communication), 2) this resulted in the interruption or impairment of service to the public, 3) the defendant specifically intended to cause this interruption or impairment, and 4) (he/she) had no reasonable ground to believe that (he/she) had a right to damage or tamper with the property.

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


 

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