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Criminal Jury Instructions

Criminal Jury Instructions Home

3.1-4 Vicarious Liability for Providing a Firearm -- 53a-8 (b)

New, June 13, 2008  (modified May 20, 2011)

Note: This statute does not define a separate crime, but a separate theory of liability. It should be included in the instruction defining the substantive offense, following the elements of that offense. If the state presents alternative theories of vicarious liability, the jury must be unanimous. See Introduction to Vicarious Liability.

When the defendant is charged only as an accessory, the court, in explaining the elements of the underlying crime, should refer to the fact that the underlying crime was committed by the principal offender rather than the defendant.

[In the alternative,] (The/the) state charges the defendant with criminal liability for the acts of another pursuant to the statute that allows a person to be held liable if (he/she) provided another person with a firearm with which to commit the crime. ["In the alternative" means that you will not consider this claim if you have already found the defendant guilty of <insert crime> as either principal or accessory as I have just instructed you. If you have not unanimously found the defendant guilty of <insert crime> as either principal or accessory, then you are to go on and consider this alternative theory of liability.]

The statute allowing this kind of liability reads as follows:

a person who sells, delivers or provides any firearm to another person to engage in conduct which constitutes an offense knowing or under circumstances in which he should know that such other person intends to use such firearm in such conduct shall be criminally liable for such conduct and shall be prosecuted and punished as if he were the principal offender.

[This statute provides an alternative theory of vicarious criminal responsibility not dependent on a shared criminal intent as required between principal and accessory.] There is no requirement under this section that the defendant have the specific criminal intent necessary to commit the crime of <insert crime>. It is only necessary that <insert name of other person> had such intent at the time of the alleged transfer. As I instructed you earlier, the intent necessary for the crime of <insert crime> is <describe intent>.

For you to find the defendant guilty of <insert crime charged> under this provision, the state must prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

Element 1 - Sold, delivered, or provided a firearm to another person
The first element is that the defendant sold, delivered or provided a firearm to <insert name of other person>. The terms "sell," "deliver," and "provide" have their ordinary meaning. "Firearm" means any sawed-off shotgun, machine gun, rifle, shotgun, pistol, revolver or other weapon, whether loaded or unloaded, from which a shot may be discharged.1 You must find that the firearm was operable at the time of the offense.

Element 2 - Intent of other person
The second element is that at the time the defendant provided <insert name of other person> with a firearm, <insert name of other person> had the intent to commit <insert crime>.

Element 3 - Knowledge
The third element is that the defendant knew or should have known that <insert name of other person> intended to commit the crime of <insert crime>. A person acts "knowingly" with respect to conduct or to a circumstance described by a statute defining an offense when (he/she) is aware that (his/her) conduct is of such nature or that such circumstance exists. <See Knowledge, Instruction 2.3-3.

Ordinarily, knowledge can be established only through an inference from other proven facts and circumstances. The inference may be drawn if the circumstances are such that a reasonable person in the defendant's situation, viewing the circumstances from the defendant's point of view, would have realized that <insert name of other person> intended to use the firearm provided by the defendant in committing <insert crime>.

Element 4 - Crime was committed
The fourth element is that <insert name of other person> actually committed the crime of <insert crime>. <Insert name of other person> is not on trial today, and you do not need to render a verdict as to (his/her) guilt or innocence. However, the state has presented evidence, which must convince you beyond a reasonable doubt, that <insert name of other person> committed <insert crime>, the elements of which I have already explained to you.

Conclusion

For you to find the defendant guilty of <insert crime> under this theory of criminal liability, you must unanimously find that the state has proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant (sold / delivered / provided) a firearm to <insert name of other person> knowing that <insert name of other person> would commit the crime of <insert substantive crime> and that <insert name of other person> did commit the crime using the firearm.

If you unanimously find that the state has proved beyond a reasonable doubt each of the elements of the crime of <insert substantive offense>, 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 definitions for machine gun, rifle, shotgun, and pistol or revolver in the glossary.

Commentary

The knowledge requirement of this instruction is very narrowly written to protect the constitutionality of the statute against a charge of vagueness. It has not yet been subject to appellate review.
 


 

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