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Criminal Jury Instructions

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6.7 Introduction to Stalking and Harassment

Revised to November 6, 2014

"The stalking statute was enacted to address the situation where the criminal does not physically take an act against the person or does not verbally make a direct and immediate threat of harm, but merely stalks the victim. . . .  The statute can be violated without a defendant's uttering a syllable, writing a word, or making a gesture."  (Citations omitted; internal quotation marks omitted.)  State v. Marsala, 44 Conn. App. 84, 95, cert. denied, 240 Conn. 912 (1997).  A defendant's obsessive behaviors are sufficient to reasonably cause a victim to fear for his or her physical safety.  State v. Russell, 101 Conn. App. 298, 317-18, cert. denied, 284 Conn. 910 (2007).

"As used in 53a-181d and 53a-181e, which requires that any 'following' be 'wilful' and 'repeated,' the 'following' must have a predatory thrust to it.  The statute does not encompass 'following' that is aimless, unintentional, accidental or undertaken for a lawful purpose."  State v. Jackson, 56 Conn. App. 264, 272, cert. denied, 242 Conn. 938 (2000).

"The standard to be applied in determining the reasonableness of the victim's fear in the context of the crime of stalking is a subjective-objective one."   State v. Cummings, 46 Conn. App. 661, 678, cert. denied, 243 Conn. 940 (1997).

The harrassment statute "does not require the state to prove that the defendant engaged in a direct communication with the person whom he intended to harass."  State v. Snyder, 40 Conn. App. 544, 552, cert. denied, 237 Conn. 921 (1996) (defendant caused numerous pieces of unsolicited mail and packages to be received by the complainants).  

In State v. Moulton, 310 Conn. 337, 351-63 (2014), the Supreme Court overruled prior precedent and concluded that 53a-183 (a) proscribes harassing and alarming speech as well as conduct.  Because this raises first amendment concerns, the scope of the prohibition is limited to speech, like true threats, that is not protected.  The court must, therefore, "instruct the jury on the difference between protected and unprotected speech whenever the state relies on the content of a communication as substantive evidence of a violation of 53a-183 (a)."  Id., 362.

Conviction of both criminal violation of a protective order and harassment in the second degree does not violate the prohibition against double jeopardy.  State v. Martino, 61 Conn. App. 118, 128 (2000).


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