5.3-3 Negligent Homicide with a Motor Vehicle -- § 14-222a
Revised to December 1, 2007 (modified June 13, 2008)
Note: The degree of negligence under § 14-222a is ordinary civil negligence. State v. Kluttz, 9 Conn. App. 686, 698-99 (1987). The state may allege either statutory negligence or common-law negligence. Tailor the instruction accordingly. If both theories of negligence are submitted to the jury, the court should instruct the jury that they must be unanimous on the type of negligence found.
The defendant is charged [in count __] with negligent homicide with a motor vehicle. The statute defining this offense imposes punishment on any person who, in consequence of the negligent operation of a motor vehicle, causes the death of 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 - Death of a person
The first element is that a person has died, here <insert name of decedent>.
Element 2 - Negligent operation
of a motor vehicle
The second element is that the defendant operated a motor vehicle in a negligent manner. A person "operates" a motor vehicle within the meaning of the statute when, while in the vehicle, (he/she) intentionally does any act or makes use of any mechanical or electrical agency that alone or in sequence sets in motion the motive power of the vehicle. A person acts "intentionally" with respect to conduct when (his/her) conscious objective is to engage in such conduct <See Intent: General, Instruction 2.3-1.>
The defendant must have operated the motor vehicle in a negligent manner. Negligence is the violation of a legal duty that one person owes to another to exercise reasonable care for the safety of that person. There are, for purposes of this case, two kinds of negligence: statutory negligence and common-law negligence. Statutory negligence is the failure to conform one's conduct to a duty imposed by the legislature through the enactment of a statute. Common-law negligence is a violation of the duty to use reasonable care under the circumstances. A violation of either of these duties is negligence.
As I just stated, common-law negligence is the failure to use reasonable care under the circumstances. Reasonable care is the care that a reasonably prudent person would use in the same circumstances. Thus, negligence is doing something that a reasonably prudent person would not do under the circumstances, or failing to do what a reasonably prudent person would do under the circumstances. The use of proper care in a given situation is the care that an ordinarily prudent person would use in view of the surrounding circumstances. In determining the care that a reasonably prudent person would use in the same circumstances, you should consider all of the circumstances which were known or should have been known to the defendant at the time of the conduct in question. Whether care is reasonable depends upon the dangers that a reasonable person would perceive in those circumstances. It is common sense that the more dangerous the circumstances, the greater the care that ought to be exercised.
Before determining whether the defendant used reasonable care, you must determine whether the defendant owed another person a duty of care. The test of the existence of a duty to use reasonable care is to be found in the foreseeability that harm of the general nature as that which occurred may result if that care is not exercised. Therefore, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant, in view of the circumstances as (he/she) knew them or in the reasonable exercise of (his/her) faculties should have known them, should have reasonably anticipated that unless (he/she) used reasonable care, harm of the same general nature as that inflicted upon the deceased would or could occur.
In determining what is reasonable care under all the circumstances, the conduct of the defendant should be judged from the viewpoint of the reasonably prudent person. A driver of an automobile is entitled to assume that other drivers will obey the law. The driver may thus assume that other drivers will obey all statutes governing the operation of motor vehicles in this state and that they will use the care that a reasonably prudent person would use in the same circumstances. The driver is allowed to make this assumption until (he/she) knows, or in the exercise of reasonable care should have known, that such an assumption is no longer warranted.
Statutory negligence is the failure to conform one's conduct to a duty imposed by the legislature through the enactment of a statute. By enacting such a law, the legislature has determined the appropriate standard of care to which an individual's conduct must conform. Conduct that violates the requirements of such statute constitutes evidence of negligence.
The state alleges that the defendant has violated the motor vehicle statute <identify statute and explain what it proscribes and how the defendant allegedly violated it>.
Therefore, if the state proves to you beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant violated this motor vehicle statute, that would be evidence of negligence, because it would be a breach of the duty of care in the operation of a motor vehicle as defined by the statute.
You may find that the defendant's conduct was negligent if you find beyond a reasonable doubt that the state has proved either common-law negligence or statutory negligence.
Element 3 - Proximate cause of
The third element is that the defendant's negligent operation of a motor vehicle was the proximate cause of <insert name of decedent>'s death. You must find beyond a reasonable doubt that <insert name of decedent> died as a result of the defendant's negligent operation of the motor vehicle. <See Proximate Cause, Instruction 2.6-1.>
Keep in mind that any negligence on <insert name of decedent>'s part is irrelevant to your determination of the defendant's guilt or non-guilt of this charge. <Insert name of decedent>'s reasonable or unreasonable operation of (his/her) motor vehicle does not relieve the defendant from (his/her) duty to operate (his/her) motor vehicle in a careful and cautious manner.1
In summary, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt 1) the death of <insert name of decedent>, 2) that the defendant operated a motor vehicle in a negligent manner, and 3) that the defendant's negligent operation of the motor vehicle caused the death.
If you unanimously find that the state
has proved beyond a reasonable doubt each of the elements of the crime of
negligent homicide with 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 Contributory negligence is not a defense in a prosecution for negligent homicide with a motor vehicle unless such negligence on the part of the decedent is found to be the sole proximate cause of the death. State v. Scribner, 72 Conn. App. 736, 741 (2002). An instruction on contributory negligence and efficient intervening should be included if warranted by the facts of the case. See id.; State v. Arrington, 81 Conn. App. 518, 522-25, cert. granted on other grounds, 268 Conn. 922 (2004) (appeal withdrawn, judgment vacated April 21, 2005).
Negligent homicide with a motor vehicle is a lesser included offense of misconduct with a motor vehicle. State v. Pickles, 28 Conn. App. 283, 288 (1992); State v. Kluttz, 9 Conn. App. 686, 698-99 (1987) (although § 14-222a is a motor vehicle violation rather than a crime, it can be considered a crime for purposes of the lesser included offense doctrine).
Multiple deaths are separate offenses. State v. Kluttz, supra, 9 Conn. App. 713-14 (defendant properly charged with 7 offenses for one accident that resulted in deaths).
Effective July 1, 2007, section 14-222a (b) provides an enhanced penalty if the motor vehicle is a commercial vehicle. The jury must find this fact proved beyond a reasonable doubt. See Sentence Enhancers, Instruction 2.11-4. See Motor Vehicle, Commercial in the Glossary.