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Criminal Jury Instructions

Criminal Jury Instructions Home

6.11-2  Risk of Injury to a Minor (Act Prong) -- § 53-21 (a) (1)

Revised to December 1, 2007 (modified April 23, 2010)

The defendant is charged [in count __] with risk of injury to a minor.  The statute defining this offense imposes punishment on any person who does any act likely to impair the (health / morals) of a child under the age of sixteen years.

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

Element 1 - Act
The first element is that that the defendant did an act that was likely to impair the (health / morals) of the child.

[<If the alleged injury is to the child's health:>  To be likely to impair the health of a minor, the statute requires that the defendant committed blatant physical abuse that endangered the child's physical well-being.1]

[<If the alleged injury is to the child's morals:>  To be likely to impair the morals of a minor, the act must be performed in a sexual and indecent manner.2  "Sexual" means having to do with sex and "indecent" means offensive to good taste or public morals.  As used here, "morals" means living, acting and thinking in accordance with those principles and precepts that are commonly accepted among us as right and decent.3]

I want to stress that the state does NOT have to prove that the defendant actually did impair the (health / morals) of the child.  Rather, the state must show only that the defendant's behavior was LIKELY to have done so.  "Likely" means in all probability.4  Thus, the state must show that it was probable that the conduct of the defendant would (physically injure / injure the health of / impair the morals of) the child.  There is no requirement that the state prove actual harm to the child.

[<Insert if appropriate:>5  The defendant need not have had the specific intent to impair the (health / morals) of the child, only the general intent to do the act.  <See Intent: General, Instruction 2.3-1.>]

Element 2 - Minor under 16 years of age
The second element is that at the time of the incident, the child was under the age of sixteen years.  This means that the child had not yet had (his/her) sixteenth birthday.

Conclusion

In summary, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that 1) the defendant did an act that was likely to impair the (health / morals) of the child, and 2) the minor was under 16 years of age at the time.

If you unanimously find that the state has proved beyond a reasonable doubt each of the elements of the crime of risk of injury to a minor, 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 See State v. Kulmac, 230 Conn. 43, 64 n.15 (1994); State v. Schriver, 207 Conn. 456, 466-67 (1988).

2 State v. Kulmac, 230 Conn. 43, 64 n.15 (1994); State v. Zwirn, 210 Conn. 582, 588 (1989); State v. Schriver, 207 Conn. 456, 466-67 (1988).

3 See State v. Payne, 240 Conn. 766, 782-83 (1997) (not improper to instruct jury to apply community standards).

4 See State v. Romero, 269 Conn. 481, 492 (2004).

5 See State v. Pierson, 201 Conn. 211, 217 (1986) (instruction need not include principle of general intent unless evidence suggests that the defendant's conduct was involuntary).

Commentary

In a case of "blatant physical abuse," a defendant who is also a parent of the victim, or standing in loco parentis, may raise the defense of parental justification to claim that the force used against the child was reasonable discipline.  State v. Nathan J., 294 Conn. 243, 260 (2009).

 


 

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