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Criminal Jury Instructions  

Criminal Jury Instructions


"Dangerous instrument" means any instrument, article or substance which, under the circumstances in which it is used or attempted or threatened to be used, is capable of causing death or serious physical injury. "Serious physical injury" means 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.

It is important to note that the article need not be inherently dangerous; all that is required is that the article was capable of causing death or serious physical injury under the circumstances in which it was used.  Any article or substance, without limitation and even though harmless under normal use, may be found by you to be a dangerous instrument if, under the circumstances of its use or threatened or attempted use, it is capable of producing serious physical injury or death. The state need not prove that in fact death or serious physical injury resulted, only that the instrument had that potential under the circumstances.

[<Insert as appropriate:>  It includes

  • a vehicle. "Vehicle" means a motor vehicle, a snowmobile, any aircraft, or any vessel equipped for propulsion by mechanical means or sail.
  • a dog that has been commanded to attack, except a dog owned by a law enforcement agency of the state or any political subdivision thereof or of the federal government when such dog is in the performance of its duties under the direct supervision, care and control of an assigned law enforcement officer.]

Source:  General Statutes 53a-3 (7) (applies to Penal Code).

Commentary:  No injury need to have actually been inflicted.  State v. Jones, 173 Conn. 91, 95-96 (1977).  It is the object's potential for inflicting injury under the specific circumstances in which it is used or threatened that makes the object a dangerous instrument.  State v. Schultz, 100 Conn. App. 709, 721, cert. denied, 282 Conn. 926 (2007) (defendant broke a glass against another person's face).

The term means "a tool, implement or device that is external to, and separate and apart from, the perpetrator's body." State v. LaFleur, 307 Conn. 115, 140 (2012) (court improperly instructed the jury that a fist can be a dangerous instrument). In State v. McColl, 74 Conn. App. 545, 554-55 (2003), the Appellate Court held that "feet and footwear" can be a dangerous instrument, but did not address whether feet alone could be a dangerous instrument, because it was clear that the defendant had been wearing shoes. See id., 553 nn.7,8.

If the conduct of the defendant involves only a threat to use an object, the threat must rise to the level of a "true threat."  See State v. Cook, 287 Conn. 237, 252 (2008).

The definition refers to the definition of "motor vehicle" in 14-1 (50), which reads as follows:  "Motor vehicle" means any vehicle propelled or drawn by any nonmuscular power, except aircraft, motor boats, road rollers, baggage trucks used about railroad stations or other mass transit facilities, electric battery-operated wheel chairs when operated by physically handicapped persons at speeds not exceeding fifteen miles per hour, golf carts operated on highways solely for the purpose of crossing from one part of the golf course to another, golf-cart-type vehicles operated on roads or highways on the grounds of state institutions by state employees, agricultural tractors, farm implements, such vehicles as run only on rails or tracks, self-propelled snow plows, snow blowers and lawn mowers, when used for the purposes for which they were designed and operated at speeds not exceeding four miles per hour, whether or not the operator rides on or walks behind such equipment, bicycles with helper motors as defined in section 14-286, special mobile equipment as defined in subsection (i) of section 14-165, mini-motorcycle, as defined in section 14-289j, and any other vehicle not suitable for operation on a highway. 




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