10 Minn. Prac., Jury Instr. Guides–Criminal CRIMJIG 11.25 (6th ed.)
September 2020 update
Part II. Specific Crimes
A. Crimes Against the Person
Chapter 11. Homicide
CRIMJIG 11.25 Murder in the Second Degree–Elements
The elements of this crime are:
First, the death of _____ must be proven.
Second, the defendant caused the death of _____.
[“To cause” means to be a substantial causal factor in causing the death. The defendant is criminally liable for all the consequences of (his) (her) actions that occur in the ordinary and natural course of events, including those consequences brought about by one or more intervening causes, if such intervening causes were the natural result of the defendant’s acts. The fact that other causes contribute to the death does not relieve the defendant of criminal liability. However, the defendant is not criminally liable if a “superseding cause” caused the death. A “superseding cause” is a cause that comes after the defendant’s acts, alters the natural sequence of events, and produces a result that would not otherwise have occurred.]1
Third, the defendant acted with the intent (to effect the death of) (to kill_____) (or _____)(or another person). To find the defendant had an “intent (to effect the death of) (to kill),” you must find the defendant acted with the purpose of causing death, or believed the act would have that result. Intent, being a process of the mind, is not always susceptible to proof by direct evidence, but may be inferred from all the circumstances surrounding the event. It is not necessary that the defendant’s act be premeditated.
Fourth, the defendant’s act took place on (or about)_____ in _____ County.
If you find each of these elements has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt, the defendant is guilty. If you find any element has not been proven beyond a reasonable doubt, the defendant is not guilty.
For most intentional crimes, nothing is said in the instructions about the manner in which intent is proven. In a typical prosecution for murder in the second degree, however, the inference to be drawn from the act is not as clear. There may be a question whether the defendant’s intent was to kill or only to injure, and any conclusion must be drawn from all the surrounding circumstances. When murder in the second degree is charged as a lesser crime to murder in the first degree, the jury will have been instructed in similar fashion with respect to the proof of premeditation (see CRIMJIG 11.02), and it is unnecessary to speak specifically about the manner of proving intent.
The statement that “It is not necessary that the defendant’s act be premeditated” is included because the members of the jury, through earlier service or from their general experience, may be cognizant of the term, and they should be instructed that it is unnecessary in murder in the second degree. The phrase should be omitted if it is felt that it will unnecessarily confuse the jury.