General Instructions

The committee has prepared the following instructions for general situations that commonly arise before and during criminal trials, and during juror deliberations.

Preliminary Statements (at jury draw, or at the beginning of the first day of trial)

  • Questions for the jurors (have you heard anything about the case, etc.)
  • Statement about juror note-taking
  • Use of electronic devices, and other things jurors shouldn’t do during trial
  • Use of interpreters

Standard (“Boilerplate”) Instructions

  • Introduction to the jury charge
  • Reading of the charge
  • A criminal information is not evidence
  • Instructions on “on or about” and “at or about”
  • Jurors should not not consider delay or consequences
  • How to understand rulings of court
  • Jurors should not be swayed by sympathy or prejudice
  • Important case

Closing Remarks

  • Jury deliberations
  • Reminder about note taking and recollection of the evidence
  • Foreperson’s duties
  • Use of electronic devices during deliberations.

Burdens of Proof

  • Proof of essential elements
  • Separate counts
  • Presumption of innocence
  • Juror unanimity
  • Proof beyond a reasonable doubt
  • Proof by a preponderance of evidence
  • Burden of proof on self-defense
  • Burden of proof on an affirmative defense


  • A general explanation of “evidence,” the statements of attorneys, and exhibits
  • Circumstantial evidence
  • Number of witnesses
  • Stipulations of fact
  • Credibility of witnesses, including experts, police officers, child witnesses, 804a statements, accomplices, co-conspirators, informants, and witnesses testifying under agreements
  • Impeachment of witnesses
  • Defendant’s out-of-court statements, testimony, and character
  • Identification testimony
  • Lost evidence

Mental Elements

  • Circumstantial proof of intent
  • Intent, specific intent, and general intent
  • Common-law and Model Penal Codemens readefinitions


  • Self defense, defense of another, defense of property
  • Diminished capacity and intoxication
  • Insanity
  • Necessity
  • Entrapment
  • Duress
  • Other miscellaneous defenses

Hung Juries

  • Allen charge
  • Partial verdict charge