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Criminal Jury Instructions

Criminal Jury Instructions Home

6.1-3  Assault in the First Degree (Reckless Indifference) -- § 53a-59 (a) (3)

Revised to December 1, 2007 (modified June 13, 2008)

The defendant is charged [in count ___] with assault in the first degree.  The statute defining this offense reads in pertinent part as follows: 

a person is guilty of assault in the first degree when under circumstances evincing an extreme indifference to human life (he/she) recklessly engages in conduct which creates a risk of death to another person, and thereby causes serious physical injury to another person.

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

Element 1 - Conduct creating a risk of death
The first element is that the defendant engaged in conduct that created a risk of death.
 

Element 2 - Recklessness
The second element is that the defendant acted recklessly.  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 3 - Extreme indifference to human life
The third element is that the defendant acted under circumstances evincing an extreme indifference to human life.  "Indifference" means simply not caring.  It means lacking any interest in a matter one way or the other.  Extreme means existing in the highest or greatest possible degree.  Extreme indifference is more than ordinary indifference.  It is synonymous with excessive and is the greatest departure from ordinary.  What evinces an extreme indifference to human life is a question of fact.
 

Element 4 - Caused serious physical injury
The fourth element is that the defendant caused serious physical injury to another person.  This means that the defendant's conduct was the proximate cause of the person's injuries.  You must find it proved beyond a reasonable doubt that <insert name of person injured> was injured as a result of the actions of the defendant.  <See Proximate Cause, Instruction 2.6-1.>

"Serious physical injury" is something more serious than mere physical injury, which is defined as "impairment of physical condition or pain."  It is more than a minor or superficial injury.  It is defined by statute as "physical injury which creates a substantial risk of death, or which causes serious disfigurement, serious impairment of health or serious loss or impairment of the function of any bodily organ."

Conclusion

In summary, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that 1) the defendant engaged in conduct that created a risk of death, 2) (he/she) acted recklessly, 3) (he/she) acted under circumstances evincing an extreme indifference to human life, and 4) (he/she) caused serious physical injury to <insert name of person injured>.

If you unanimously find that the state has proved beyond a reasonable doubt each of the elements of the crime of assault in the first 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.

Commentary 

Sentence Enhancer
Section 53a-59 (b) provides an enhanced penalty if the victim is either under 10 years of age or a witness if the defendant knew the victim was a witness.  The jury must find this fact proved beyond a reasonable doubt.  See Sentence Enhancers, Instruction 2.11-4.
 


 

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