New Haven, CT asked in Criminal Law for Connecticut

Q: Does breach of peace in the second degree mean robbery or theft?

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1 Lawyer Answer

Joseph Bronson Barnes Esq

Answered
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Milford, CT
  • Licensed in Connecticut

A: 8.4-4 Breach of the Peace in the Second Degree -- § 53a-181 (a) (3)

Revised to June 12, 2009

The defendant is charged [in count __] with breach of the peace in the second degree. The statute defining this offense reads in pertinent as follows:

a person is guilty of breach of the peace when, with intent to cause inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or recklessly creating a risk thereof, such person threatens to commit any crime against another person or such other person's property.

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

Element 1 - Intent

The first element is that the defendant

acted with the intent to cause inconvenience, annoyance or alarm. The predominant intent must be to cause what a reasonable person operating under contemporary community standards would consider a disturbance to or impediment of a lawful activity, a deep feeling of vexation or provocation, or a feeling of anxiety prompted by threatened danger or harm.

recklessly created a risk of causing inconvenience, annoyance or alarm. A person acts "recklessly" with respect to a result or circumstances when (he/she) is aware of and consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that such result will occur or that such circumstances exist.

The words "inconvenience, annoyance or alarm" refer to what a reasonable person operating under contemporary community standards would consider a disturbance to or impediment of a lawful activity, a deep feeling of vexation or provocation, or a feeling of anxiety prompted by threatened danger or harm.1

Element 2 - Threat

The second element is that the defendant threatened to commit a crime against another person or (his/her) property. The state claims that the defendant threatened to commit the crime of against . This crime is defined by statute as .

A threat can only be punishable when it is a true threat, that is, a threat that a reasonable person would understand as a serious expression of an intent to harm or assault, and not as mere puffery, bluster, jest or hyperbole. In determining whether the threat is a true threat, consider the particular factual context in which the allegedly threatening conduct occurred which could include the reaction of the person allegedly being threatened and the defendant's conduct before and after the allegedly threatening conduct.2

Conclusion

In summary, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant 1) (intended to cause / recklessly created a risk of causing) inconvenience, annoyance, or alarm, and 2) .

If you unanimously find that the state has proved beyond a reasonable doubt each of the elements of the crime of breach of peace in the second degree, 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 Supreme Court applied this interpretive gloss to the mens rea language of the disorderly conduct statute in State v. Indrisano, 228 Conn. 795, 810-811 (1994). In State v. Wolff, 237 Conn. 633, 670 (1996), the Court applied it to the breach of peace statute. See the discussion of intent in the Introduction to this section.

2 See State v. DeLoreto, 265 Conn. 145, 154 (2003); State v. Crudup, 81 Conn. App. 248, 260, cert. denied, 268 Conn. 913 (2004). In State v. DeLoreto, supra, 265 Conn. 168, the Court stated that this subsection does not criminalize only true threats, but “potentially could encompass that class of statements that, while they would qualify as fighting words for the ordinary citizen, are not offensive enough to provoke a police officer to violence and are, thus, protected speech.” The Court then adopts a judicial gloss that “when a police officer is the only person upon whose sensibilities the inflammatory language could have played, a conviction can be supported only for extremely offensive behavior supporting an inference that the actor wished to provoke the policeman to violence.” (Internal quotation marks omitted.) Id., 169.

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