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Criminal Jury Instructions

Criminal Jury Instructions Home

8.2-26  Possession of Assault Weapon -- § 53-202c

Revised to December 1, 2007

The defendant is charged [in count __] with possession of an assault weapon.  The statute defining this offense imposes punishment on any person who, within this state, possesses any assault weapon.

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

Element 1 - Possessed assault weapon
The first element is that the defendant knowingly possessed an assault weapon.  "Assault weapon" is defined by statute and includes <insert type of assault weapon>.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 - Within Connecticut
The second element is that the possession took place within the state of Connecticut.  The state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the assault weapon was physically located within Connecticut at the time the defendant possessed it.

Conclusion

In summary, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant possessed an assault weapon within the state of Connecticut.

If you unanimously find that the state has proved beyond a reasonable doubt each of the elements of the possession of an assault weapon, 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.
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1 The term assault weapon is defined in § 53-202b to include specifically listed models of firearms as well as firearms not specifically listed that have certain characteristics.  The instruction should be tailored to the type of assault weapon alleged in the case.

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

Commentary

See General Statutes § 53-202c (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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