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Criminal Jury Instructions

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8.2-20  Unlawful Discharge of Firearms -- § 53-203

Revised to December 1, 2007

The defendant is charged [in count __] with the unlawful discharge of a firearm.  The statute defining this offense reads in pertinent part as follows: 

a person is guilty of unlawful discharge of firearms when such person intentionally, negligently or carelessly discharges any firearm in such a manner as to be likely to cause bodily injury or death to persons or domestic animals, or the wanton destruction of property.

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

Element 1 - Discharged firearm
The first element is that the defendant intentionally, negligently or carelessly1 discharged a firearm.  A "firearm" is any weapon from which a shot is fired by the force of an explosion.2 

<Insert appropriate mental state:>

  • A person acts "intentionally" with respect to conduct when (he/she) intends to engage in such conduct.  <See Intent: General, Instruction 2.3-1.>
  • A person acts "negligently" when (he/she) fails to use reasonable care under the circumstances.  Reasonable care is the care that a reasonably prudent person would use in the same circumstances.

Element 2 - Likelihood of injury, death or destruction of property
The second element is that (he/she) discharged the firearm in a manner likely to cause bodily injury or death to person or domestic animals, or the wanton3 destruction of property.

Conclusion

In summary, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant intentionally, negligently or carelessly discharged a firearm in a manner likely to cause bodily injury or death to person or domestic animals, or the wanton destruction of property.

If you unanimously find that the state has proved beyond a reasonable doubt each of the elements of the crime of the unlawful discharge of a firearm, 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 Carelessly and negligently are synonymous in ordinary usage.  See Webster's New World College Dictionary ("careless" defined as "not paying enough attention . . . neglectful"; "negligent" defined as "neglectful; careless.")

2 This statute does not incorporate the definition of "firearm" in General Statutes § 53a-3 (19), so the ordinary meaning of the word is used.  

3 Wanton is defined in the dictionary as "recklessly or arrogantly ignoring justice, decency, morality, etc."  Webster's New World College Dictionary.  In the civil context, "[t]he terms wanton and reckless in practice mean the same thing. . . .  Both terms refer to highly unreasonable conduct, involving an extreme departure from ordinary care, in a situation where a high degree of danger is apparent."  (Citation omitted; internal quotation marks omitted.)  Belanger v. Village Pub I, Inc., 26 Conn. App. 509, 512-13 (1992).
 


 

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