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Criminal Jury Instructions

Criminal Jury Instructions Home

8.2-12  Weapons in Vehicles -- 29-38

Revised to December 1, 2007 (modified May 20, 2011)

The defendant is charged [in count __] with unlawfully carrying a weapon in a vehicle.  The statute defining this offense imposes punishment on any person who knowingly has, in any vehicle owned, operated or occupied by such person, any (weapon / pistol or revolver for which a proper permit has not been issued / machine gun which has not been registered).

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

Element 1 - Vehicle
The first element is that the defendant owned, operated or occupied the vehicle.

Element 2 - Weapon
The second element is that the defendant had a (weapon / pistol or revolver / machine gun) in the vehicle.  <Insert the appropriate definition(s):>

  • The term "weapon" includes <insert one of the following:>

    • BB gun.

    • blackjack.

    • metal or brass knuckles.

    • any dirk knife.

    • any switch knife.

    • any knife having an automatic spring release device by which a blade is released from the handle, having a blade of over one and one-half inches in length.

    • stiletto.

    • any knife the edged portion of the blade of which is four inches or more in length.

    • any police baton or nightstick.

    • any martial arts weapon or electronic defense weapon.

    • any other dangerous or deadly weapon or instrument.

  • The term "pistol or revolver" means any firearm having a barrel less than twelve inches.1

  • The term "machine gun" applies to and includes a weapon of any description, loaded or unloaded, which shoots, is designed to shoot or can be readily restored to shoot automatically more than one projectile, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger, and shall also include any part or combination of parts designed for use in converting a weapon into a machine gun and any combination of parts from which a machine gun can be assembled if such parts are in possession of or under the control of a person.

Element 3 - Knowledge
The third element is that the defendant knew the (weapon / pistol or revolver / machine gun) was in the vehicle.  A person acts "knowingly" with respect to conduct or to a circumstance when (he/she) is aware that (his/her) conduct is of such nature or that such circumstance exists.  <See Knowledge, Instruction 2.3-3.>

[Element 4 - No permit or registration2
The fourth element is that the defendant had no (permit for the pistol or revolver / registration for the machine gun).3]


In summary, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant 1) owned, operated or occupied the vehicle, 2) (he/she) had a <insert type of weapon> in the vehicle, [and] 3) (he/she) knew that the <insert type of weapon> was in the vehicle, [and 4) (he/she) had no (permit for the pistol or revolver/ registration for the machine gun).]

If you unanimously find that the state has proved beyond a reasonable doubt each of the elements of the crime of having a weapon in a motor vehicle, 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.

1 Because the definition of "pistol or revolver" derives from General Statutes 29-27, operability of the pistol or revolver is not a requirement of this offense.  See glossary entry for pistol or revolver.

2 General Statutes 29-28 requires a permit for all pistols and revolvers.  General Statutes 53-202 requires all machine guns to be registered.  A permit or registration is not applicable to other weapons, so this element should not be included when the allegation is of such a weapon.

3 It must be shown that no one in the vehicle had a permit for the pistol or revolver.  See State v. Smith, 9 Conn. App. 330, 339 (1986).


The elements of this offense are set forth in State v. Delossantos, 211 Conn. 258, 273, cert. denied, 493 U.S. 866, 110 S.Ct. 188, 107 L.Ed.2d 142 (1989); see also State v. Smith, 63 Conn. App. 228, 242, cert. denied, 258 Conn. 901 (2001) (knowledge, not possession, is sufficient for conviction); State v. Owens, 25 Conn. App. 181, cert. denied, 220 Conn. 910 (1991) (the crime is having a weapon in a motor vehicle, not the possession or ownership of the weapon); State v. Nelson, 17 Conn. App. 556, 561 (1989) (lack of proper permit for pistol or revolver is a required element)

The provision in this statute that states that "the presence of any such weapon in any vehicle shall be prima facie evidence of a violation of this section by the owner, operator and each occupant thereof" was held unconstitutional as a violation of the defendant's due process rights.  State v. Watson, 165 Conn. 577, 595-97 (1973), cert. denied, 416 U.S. 960, 94 S.Ct. 1977, 40 L.Ed.2d 311 (1974). 

See General Statutes 29-38 (b) for exceptions to culpability.  "[W]here exceptions to a prohibition in a criminal statute are situated separately from the enacting clause, the exceptions are to be proven by the defense."  (Internal quotation marks omitted.)  State v. Valinski, 254 Conn. 107, 123 (2000) (rule also applies when the exception is found in a separate statute). 


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