FIRST DEGREE ARSON (W/ACCOMPLICE, BURNING DWELLING HOUSE, 13 V.S.A. § 502)
The State has charged (Def)_______________ with first degree arson, as follows:
[Read the charge.]
Every crime is made up of essential elements. Before (Def)_______________ can be found guilty of the charge, the State must have proven each of the essential elements beyond a reasonable doubt. In this case, the essential elements are that on the date and at the place alleged,
(1) (Def)_______________ committed the crime charged;
(2) (Def)_______________ or an accomplice [burned] [set fire to] a building;
(3) (Def)_______________ acted wilfully and maliciously, either in [burning] [setting fire to] the building, or in performing [his] [her] role in planning to [burn] [set fire to] the building with [his] [her] accomplice[s]; and
(4) the building was a dwelling house at the time of the burning.
The first essential element is that (Def)_______________ is the person who committed the crime charged.
The second essential element is that (Def)_______________ or an accomplice [burned] [set fire to] a building, specifically (building)_______________. The State must have proven that part of the building was burned, but the State need not have proven that the entire building was damaged. The burning of any part of the building, no matter how small, is all that is required. [Part of the material of the building itself must have been damaged. It is not enough for the State to have proven that part of the building was blackened by smoke.].
[Insert “accomplice liability” instruction CR09-301, either here or earlier in the instructions.]
Here the State alleges that (Def)_______________ or an accomplice burned (building)_______________ by (specific acts)__________________.
The third essential element is that (Def)_______________ acted wilfully and maliciously, either in [burning] [setting fire to] the building, or in performing [his] [her] role in planning to burn the building with [his] [her] accomplice[s]. When a fire occurs and a building burns and nothing more appears, you must presume that the fire was the result of an accident or some natural cause, rather than the result of a crime. On the other hand, an intentional burning may be proven by circumstantial evidence. Here the State must have proven that (Def)_______________ acted with a wilful and malicious intent to burn the house, and that, in fact, either [he] [she] or [his] [her] accomplice[s] did [burn] [set fire to] the house.
To act wilfully means to act intentionally. In other words, it means to do an act on purpose, and not inadvertently, because of mistake, or by accident.
To act maliciously means to act intentionally and without legal justification. It does not necessarily mean to act with personal hate or ill will.
The intent with which a person does an act may be shown by the way in which he or she expresses it to others, or by his or her conduct. In determining (Def)_______________’s intent, you should consider all of the surrounding facts and circumstances established by the evidence.
The last essential element is that the building that was [burned] [set fire to] was a dwelling house at the time of the burning. The State must have proven that the building was used as a dwelling house. It does not matter whether the house was actually occupied at the time of the fire, or whether it was temporarily vacant.
All of the elements of the offense must have been present at the same time. If the State has not proven each of the essential elements of the charge beyond a reasonable doubt, then you must find (Def)_______________ not guilty. However, if the State has proven all of the essential elements beyond a reasonable doubt, you must return a verdict of guilty.