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Criminal Jury Instructions

Criminal Jury Instructions Home

8.2-13  Shotguns, Rifles and Muzzleloaders in Vehicles and Snowmobiles -- 53-205

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

The defendant is charged [in count __] with having a (shotgun / rifle / muzzleloader) in a (vehicle / snowmobile).  The statute defining this offense reads in pertinent part as follows: 

no person shall (carry / possess) in any (vehicle / snowmobile) any (shotgun / rifle / muzzleloader) of any gauge or caliber while the (shotgun / rifle / muzzleloader) is loaded and operable.

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

Element 1 - Carried a shotgun, rifle, or muzzleloader
The first element is that the defendant (carried / possessed) a (shotgun / rifle / muzzleloader) of any gauge or caliber.  <Insert appropriate definition(s):>

  • A "rifle" is a weapon designed or redesigned, made or remade, and intended to be fired from the shoulder and designed or redesigned and made or remade to use the energy of the explosive in a fixed metallic cartridge to fire only a single projectile through a rifled bore for each single pull of the trigger.

  • A "shotgun" is a weapon designed or redesigned, made or remade, and intended to be fired from the shoulder and designed or redesigned and made or remade to use the energy of the explosive in a fixed shotgun shell to fire through a smooth bore either a number of ball shot or a single projectile for each single pull of the trigger.

  • A "muzzleloader" is a rifle or shotgun that is incapable of firing a self-contained cartridge and that must be loaded at the muzzle end, which is the front end of the barrel.

<Insert as appropriate:>

  • A weapon is "carried" if it is on one's person and within the person's control or dominion, meaning that the person must be aware of its presence.1

  • "Possession" means either actual possession or constructive possession.  Actual possession means actual physical possession, such as having the object on one's person.  Constructive possession means having the object in a place under one's dominion and control.

Possession also requires that the defendant knew that (he/she) was in possession of the firearm.  That is, that (he/she) was aware that (he/she) was in possession of it and was aware of its nature.  The state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant knew that (he/she) was in possession of the firearm.  <See Knowledge, Instruction 2.3-3.>

            <If some form of constructive possession is alleged, see Possession, Instruction 2.11-1.>2

Element 2 - While loaded
The second element is that the (shotgun / rifle / muzzleloader) was loaded and capable of being discharged.  <Insert as appropriate:>

  • A (shotgun / rifle) is loaded when it contains in the barrel, chamber or magazine any loaded shell or cartridge capable of being discharged.

  • A muzzleloader is loaded when it has a percussion cap in place or when the powder pan of a flint lock contains powder.

Element 3 - In a vehicle or snowmobile
The third element is that the defendant (carried / possessed) the (shotgun / rifle / muzzleloader) in a (vehicle / snowmobile).

Conclusion

In summary, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that 1) the defendant (carried / possessed) a (shotgun / rifle / muzzleloader), 2) it was loaded, and 3) it was in a (vehicle / snowmobile).

If you unanimously find that the state has proved beyond a reasonable doubt each of the elements of the crime of having a (shotgun / rifle / muzzleloader) in a (vehicle / snowmobile), 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 State v. Hopes, 26 Conn. App. 367, 375, cert. denied, 221 Conn. 915 (1992).  "[C]arrying and possession are different concepts, that is a person can possess an item without carrying it on his person."  State v. Williams, 59 Conn. App. 603, 608, cert. denied, 254 Conn. 946 (2000).

2 Ascertain from counsel what form of possession is alleged.  The definition should be narrowly tailored to the allegations.

Commentary

See General Statutes 53-205 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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