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Criminal Jury Instructions

Criminal Jury Instructions Home

9.5-7  Criminal Mischief in the Third Degree -- § 53a-117 (a) (1)

Revised to December 1, 2007

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

a person is guilty of criminal mischief in the third degree when, having no reasonable ground to believe that such person has a right to do so, such person (intentionally / recklessly) <insert as appropriate:>

  • damages tangible property of another.

  • tampers with tangible property of another and thereby causes such property to be placed in danger of damage.

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 <insert as appropriate:>

  • damaged tangible property of another.

  • tampered with tangible property of another and thereby placed the property in danger of damage.

"Tangible" means that the property is something that can be felt and seen.  To "damage" means to harm the property.  To "tamper with" means to physically interfere with.

[<Insert if applicable:>  This "other person" need not have had a complete, absolute, or exclusive right to the property.  It is enough if (he/she) had a right to possess it or shared some such right with someone else.] 

Element 2 - Intentionally / Recklessly
The second element is that the defendant acted (intentionally / recklessly)1 in damaging or tampering with the property.  <Insert as appropriate:>

  • 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.>

  • A person acts "recklessly" with respect to a result or circumstances when (he/she) is aware of and consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that such result will occur or that such circumstances exist.  <See Recklessness, Instruction 2.3-4.>

Element 3 - No right
The third 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 property / tampered with property causing a risk that it would be damaged), 2) (he/she) did so (intentionally / recklessly), and 3) (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 third 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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1 If both intentional and reckless are charged in the alternative, instruct the jury that it must be unanimous as to which of the alternatives applies.
 


 

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