New Jersey Jury Instructions


A section of our criminal law provides that… the use of force upon or toward the person of another is justifiable when the actor reasonably believes it necessary to prevent what he reasonably believes to be an attempt by such other person to commit [CHOOSE APPLICABLE CRIME: theft, criminal mischief or other criminal interference with personal property in his possession or in the possession of another for whose protection he acts].

[Define offense or offenses by the “victim” which may be involved, as well as the appropriate instructions for attempt, if applicable.]

Our criminal law further provides that in the defense of personal property the use of force is justifiable only if the actor first requests the person against whom such force is used to desist from his interference with the property, unless the actor reasonably believes that (a) such request would be useless; (b) it would be dangerous to himself or another to make the request; or (c) substantial harm will be done to the physical condition of the property which is sought to be protected before the request can effectively be made.

[Define reasonable belief as in the preceding section.]

The use of force to defend personal property is not justifiable if the actor knows that the exclusion of the person attempting to commit [crime alleged] will expose him/her to substantial danger of serious bodily harm.

Serious bodily harm is defined as:

Bodily harm which creates a substantial risk of death or which causes serious, permanent disfigurement or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ [WHERE APPLICABLE: or which results from aggravated sexual assault or sexual assault].


[N.J.S.A. 2C:3-6d(2) provides that “[t]he use of deadly force in defense of personal property is not justified unless justified under another provision of this chapter.”  If defendant claims that his/her use of deadly force was justified under any provision of N.J.S.A. 2C:3-3 to 3-8, the jury should be instructed regarding that provision at this point.  Also, define “deadly force” as in the preceding section.]


The burden of proof is upon the State to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the use of force by the defendant was not justified.  Thus, if you find that the State has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed _________________________ [the crime[s] charged in the indictment] and has also proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was not justified in using force, then your verdict must be guilty.  But if you have a reasonable doubt whether his/her use of force was justified, then your verdict must be not guilty.