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Criminal Jury Instructions

Criminal Jury Instructions Home

9.5-11  Criminal Damage of a Landlord's Property -- § 53a-117e, § 53a-117f, and § 53a-117g

Revised to December 1, 2007

Note:  First, second and third degree differ as to mens rea and the amount of the resulting damage.  First degree, § 53a-117e, requires intentional conduct and damage exceeding $1,500.  Second degree, § 53a-117f,  requires either intentional conduct and damage exceeding $250, or reckless conduct and damage exceeding $1,500.  Third degree, § 53a-117g, requires reckless conduct and damage exceeding $250.

The defendant is charged [in count __] with criminal damage of a landlord's property in the (first / second / third) degree.  The statute defining this offense reads in pertinent part  as follows: 

a tenant is guilty of criminal damage of a landlord's property in the (first / second / third) degree when, having no reasonable ground to believe that (he/she) has a right to do so, (he/she) (intentionally / recklessly) damages the tangible property of the landlord of the premises in an amount exceeding (one thousand five hundred / two hundred fifty) dollars.

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

Element 1 - Tenant
The first element is that the defendant was a tenant.  "Tenant"1 means the lessee, sublessee or person entitled under a rental agreement to occupy a dwelling unit or premises to the exclusion of others.  "Premises" means a dwelling unit and the structure of which it is a part, facilities and appurtenances, i.e., equipment within the dwelling unit, and grounds, areas and facilities held out for the use of tenants generally or whose use is promised to the tenant.  "Dwelling unit" means any house or building or portion thereof, which is occupied, is designed to be occupied, or is rented, leased or hired out to be occupied as a home or residence of one or more persons. 

Element 2 - Damaged property
The second element is that the defendant damaged tangible property.  "Tangible property" is something that can be felt and seen.  The statute addresses actual, physical damage to property.

Element 3 - Landlord
The third element is that the property is that of the landlord of the premises.  "Landlord" means the owner, lessor or sublessor of the dwelling unit, the building of which it is a part or the premises.  "Owner" means one or more persons, jointly or severally, in whom is vested 1) all or part of the legal title to property or 2) all or part of the beneficial ownership and a right to present use and enjoyment of the premises and includes a mortgagee in possession.  "Person" means an individual, corporation, limited liability company, the state or any political subdivision thereof or agency, business trust, estate, trust, partnership or association, two or more persons having a joint common interest, and any other legal or commercial entity.

Element 4 - Value
The fourth element is that the defendant caused damage to this property in an amount exceeding ($1,500 / $250); that is, the value of the property was lowered by at least that amount.  The decrease in value may be proved by evidence showing the cost of repairs necessary to restore the property to its condition immediately before the alleged damage by the defendant.  Damage may also be proved by evidence showing a property value decrease in excess of ($1,500 / $250).

Element 5 - Intentionally / Recklessly
The fifth element is that the defendant <insert as appropriate:>2

  • intentionally caused this damage.  A person acts "intentionally" with respect to a result when (his/her) conscious objective is to cause such result.  <See Intent: Specific, Instruction 2.3-1.>

  • recklessly caused this damage.  A person acts "recklessly" with respect to a result or circumstances when (he/she) is aware of and consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that such result will occur or that such circumstances exist.  <See Recklessness, Instruction 2.3-4.>

Element 6 - No right
The sixth element is that the defendant had no reasonable ground to believe that (he/she) had a right to damage the property.  A "reasonable ground to believe" means that a reasonable person in the defendant's situation, viewing the circumstances from the defendant's point of view, would have shared that belief.

Conclusion

In summary, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that 1) the defendant was a tenant, 2) (he/she) damaged or tampered with tangible property, 3) the property belonged to the landlord of the premises, 4) the property damage exceeded ($1,500 / $250), 5) the defendant (intentionally / recklessly) damaged the property, and 6) (he/she) had no reasonable ground to believe that (he/she) had a right to damage the property.

If you unanimously find that the state has proved beyond a reasonable doubt each of the elements of the crime of criminal damage of a landlord's property in the (first / second / third) degree, 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 Definitions for "tenant," landlord," and "premises" are from § 47a-1, incorporated by reference in §§ 53a-117e, 53a-117f, and 53a-117g.

2 Intentional conduct applies to first degree (with damages exceeding $1500) and second degree (with damages exceeding $250); recklessness applies to second degree (with damages exceeding $1500) and third degree (with damages exceeding $250).
 


 

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