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Criminal Jury Instructions

Criminal Jury Instructions Home

7.4-3  Obscenity as to Minors -- § 53a-196

Revised to December 1, 2007

The defendant is charged [in count __] with obscenity as to minors.  The statute defining this offense reads in pertinent part as follows: 

a person is guilty of obscenity as to minors when (he/she) knowingly promotes to a minor, for monetary consideration, any material or performance which is obscene as to minors.

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

Element 1 - Materials that are obscene to minor
The first element is that the (material / performance) is obscene as to minors.  Material or performance is "obscene as to minors" if it depicts a prohibited sexual act and, taken as a whole, is harmful to minors.  "Minor" means any person less than seventeen years old.  "Harmful to minors" means any description or representation, in whatever form, of a prohibited sexual act, when that description or representation (A) predominantly appeals to the prurient, shameful or morbid interest of minors, (B) is patently offensive to prevailing standards in the adult community as a whole with respect to what is suitable material for minors, and (C) taken as a whole it lacks serious literary, artistic, educational, political or scientific value for minors.  "Prurient" refers to lustful, lascivious or lewd propensities in persons.

"Prohibited sexual act" means erotic fondling, nude performance, sexual excitement, sado-masochistic abuse, masturbation or sexual intercourse.  "Erotic fondling" means touching a person's clothed or unclothed genitals, pubic area, buttocks, or, if such person is a female, breast.  "Nude performance" means the showing of the human male or female genitals, pubic area or buttocks with less than a fully opaque covering or the showing of the female breast with less than a fully opaque covering of any portion thereof below the top of the nipple, or the depiction of covered male genitals in a discernibly turgid state in any play, motion picture, dance or other exhibition performed before an audience.  "Sexual excitement" means the condition of human male or female genitals when in a state of sexual stimulation or arousal.  "Sado-masochistic abuse" means flagellation or torture by or upon a person clad in undergarments, a mask or bizarre costume, or the condition of being fettered, bound, or otherwise physically restrained on the part of one so clothed.  "Masturbation" means real or simulated touching, rubbing or otherwise stimulating a person's own clothed or unclothed genitals, pubic area, buttocks, or, if the person is female, breast, either by manual manipulation or with an artificial instrument.  "Sexual intercourse" means intercourse, real or simulated, whether genital-genital, oral-genital, anal-genital or oral-anal, whether between persons of the same or opposite sex or between a human and an animal, or with an artificial genital.

Not all material that at first glance has some of these qualities is forbidden under the law.  Materials that merely appeal to a minor's curiosity as to sex or the anatomical differences between sexes does not fall within the proscription of the statute.  Also, genuine works of art, literature and educational texts that have redeeming social value and are not presented in such a manner as to appeal to the prurient interest in people for commercial gain are likewise not prohibited under the statute.  You must also bear in mind the era in which we are now living.  Material that might have been considered vulgar twenty years ago is no longer so regarded.  Furthermore, you should be aware that different parts of the country have varying standards and attitudes toward what is called obscenity.

Element 2 - Knowingly promoted
The second element is that the defendant promoted such material or performance with knowledge of its character and contents.  "Knowingly" in this context1 means having general knowledge of or reason to know or a belief or ground for belief that warrants further inspection or inquiry as to the character and content of any material or performance that is reasonably susceptible of examination by such person.  "Promote" means to (manufacture / issue / sell / give / provide / lend / mail / deliver / transfer / transmit / publish / distribute / circulate / disseminate / present / exhibit / advertise / produce / direct / participate in) the material or performance.

Element 3 - To a minor
The third element is that the person to whom the obscene (material / performance) was promoted was a minor.  A minor is a person less than 17 years of age.  This means that the person has not reached (his/her) 17th birthday.  The defendant must have known or had reason to know that the person was a minor.

Conclusion

In summary, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that 1) the (material / performance) was obscene as to minors, 2) the defendant promoted the (materials / performance) to another person, knowing of its character and contents, and 3) knew that the other person was a minor.

If you unanimously find that the state has proved beyond a reasonable doubt each of the elements of the crime of obscenity as to minors, 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 General Statutes § 53a-196 provides this definition of "knowingly," for the purposes of this offense.

Commentary

See generally State v. Parsons, 28 Conn. App. 91, cert. denied, 223 Conn. 920 (1992).
 


 

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