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Criminal Jury Instructions

Criminal Jury Instructions Home

2.7-1  Intoxication -- § 53a-7

Revised to December 1, 2007

There has been some evidence to the effect that the defendant was under the influence of an intoxicant, namely <insert type of intoxicant>, at the time of the alleged act[s].  The statute pertaining to intoxication reads in pertinent part as follows: 

intoxication shall not be a defense to a criminal charge, but in any prosecution for an offense evidence of intoxication of the defendant may be offered by the defendant whenever it is relevant to negate an element of the crime charged.

"Intoxication" is defined by statute as a substantial disturbance of mental or physical capacities resulting from the introduction of substances into the body.

If you find that the defendant was under the influence of an intoxicant at the time of the alleged act[s], you must then determine what effect, if any, this voluntary intoxication had on (his/her) ability to form the specific intent required to commit the alleged crime[s]. 

Note that intoxication is not a defense to or an excuse for the commission of a crime.  It is only relevant to negate an element of the crime charged, such as intent.  If you find that the defendant was intoxicated at the time of the crime, you may take this fact into consideration in determining whether (he/she) was in such a state of intoxication as to be incapable of forming the required specific intent, which is a necessary element for the commission of the crime[s] of <insert crime(s) charged>.

If you believe that the defendant, although intoxicated, was still capable of forming a specific criminal intent, then the defendant's responsibility is the same as if (he/she) were not intoxicated.  You must first decide whether the defendant was intoxicated at the time of the alleged crime; and second, whether the defendant was incapable of forming an intent to commit the acts constituting the crime[s] of <insert crime(s) charged>.  Remember, the defendant does not have to prove that (he/she) was intoxicated.  The state always has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was capable of forming the required intent.  Any degree of intoxication, not merely total intoxication, may be considered in determining whether the defendant possessed the requisite intent.

Commentary

When evidence of the defendant's intoxication has been admitted, the jury should be instructed that it must determine whether the defendant committed the acts alleged, whether he or she was intoxicated at the time, and whether the intoxication was such as to render the defendant unable to form the requisite intent.  See generally State v. Ortiz, 217 Conn. 648 (1991); State v. Stevenson, 198 Conn. 560 (1986); State v. Crawford, 172 Conn. 65, 70 (1976); State v. Kellman, 56 Conn. App. 279, 282-83, cert. denied, 252 Conn. 939 (2000); State v. Chasse, 51 Conn. App. 345, 372-76 (1998), cert. denied, 247 Conn. 960-61 (1999); State v. Maia, 48 Conn. App. 677, 680-85, cert. denied, 245 Conn. 918-19 (1998); State v. Brown, 35 Conn. App. 699, 702-08, cert. denied, 231 Conn. 932 (1994).

The state always has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was not only capable of forming the required intent, but that he or she actually possessed such intent.  State v. Faria, 254 Conn. 613, 635-36 (2000); State v. Austin, 244 Conn. 226, 237-41 (1998); State v. Dwyer, 59 Conn. App. 207, 218-21, cert. denied, 254 Conn. 937 (2000); State v. Toczko, 23 Conn. App. 502, 507 n.2 (1990).

In summarizing the evidence of the defendant's intoxication for the jury, the court may limit its discussion to the evidence directly relevant to the ability to form the requisite intent, but should allow the jury to consider all the evidence in determining whether the defendant had possessed the requisite intent.  See State v. Roman, 67 Conn. App. 194, 205-206 (2001), rev'd in part on other grounds, 262 Conn. 718 (2003) (while there was evidence that defendant had ingested both alcohol and cocaine, the court only referred to alcohol in its instruction because the testimony of cocaine's affects was not relevant to his ability to form the requisite intent).

Intoxication and Recklessness
The common-law rule regarding intoxication explicitly made the distinction between specific and general intent crimes.  State v. Shine, 193 Conn. 632, 638-40 (1984).  General Statutes § 53a-7 does not, "but rather expressly prohibits the evidence when the mental state is recklessness or negligence."  Id., 640.  "It is entirely reasonable for the legislature to make a rule that whatever cognitive elements there are in recklessness, they cannot be negated by evidence of voluntary intoxication.  The majority of cases in America support the creation of a special rule relating to intoxication, so that, if the only reason why the defendant does not realize the riskiness of his conduct is that he is too intoxicated to realize it, he is guilty of the recklessness which the crime requires."  (Internal quotation marks omitted.)  Id., 640-41.

"While the defendant cannot introduce evidence of intoxication to dispute recklessness the state can introduce that evidence to prove recklessness."  State v. Shine, supra, 193 Conn. 642.  The jury may be instructed that the jury should disregard evidence of intoxication if it does not negate the element of intent.  State v. Jenkins, 88 Conn. App. 762, 772-75, cert. denied, 274 Conn. 901 (2005).
 


 

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