Requisite Intent for Assaulting an Officer is to Prevent Performance of Duties, Not to Cause Injury

Written by Lindsay E. Raber, Esq.

In a criminal law matter, the Appellate Court of Connecticut declined to reverse a defendant’s conviction for assault of a peace officer because there was sufficient evidence for a jury to return a guilty verdict.

The Case

This case arose from an incident that occurred at 1:00am on January 13, 2006, in Norwalk. The defendant was engaged in a high-speed chase with police when he lost control of his vehicle and crashed into a guardrail. He attempted to flee from the scene when an officer tackled him from behind, causing both to fall to the ground.

The defendant “violently fought bad kicked [the officer],” who attempted numerous times to subdue the defendant with his Taser gun. Only when other officers arrived was the defendant successfully handcuffed and placed under arrest. Afterwards, the officer realized that he had “bloodied both knees … [and] had an ankle injury which required doctor’s attention.” In addition, the officer suffered a tear to his Achilles tendon that required him to file a worker’s compensation claim and take several days off from work.

Assault of a Peace Officer Charge

The defendant was charged for numerous offenses, including assault of a peace officer in violation of Connecticut General Statutes § 35a-167c(a)(1). On appeal, the defendant argued, in part, that the evidence offered by the State was insufficient to convict him. Specifically, he claimed that the State failed to show that he had the requisite specific intent to injure the officer, and that the officer was injured by the defendant’s actions.

To secure a conviction for assault of a peace officer, the State must offer proof establishing, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant “with intent to prevent a reasonably identifiable peace officer… from performing his or her duties, and while such peace officer… is acting in the performance of his duties… causes physical injury to such peace officer.” However, the intent required is to prevent the performance of duties, not the intent to cause injury.

The Decision

In this case, the Appellate Court found that a jury could reasonably find that the defendant committed the offense. It noted there was sufficient evidence presented to the jury that “the defendant had the requisite intent to prevent [the officer] from performing his duties, and the defendant’s actions were a proximate cause of the [officer’s] injuries.” Therefore, the defendant’s insufficiency of the evidence claim was rejected.

When faced with a charge of interfering with a police officer or assault of a peace officer, an individual is best served by consulting with an experienced criminal law practitioner. Should you have any questions regarding criminal defense, please do not hesitate to contact Attorney Joseph C. Maya in the firm’s Westport office in Fairfield County at 203-221-3100 or at JMaya@Mayalaw.com.