Jury Instructions (types) – given by a judge to a jury concerning the law of the case

Request for Instructions – a written request to the judge for jury instructions, made by either party, usually after both sides have rested. [1]

jury instructions:

1. A direction or guideline that a judge gives a jury concerning the law of the case. — Often shortened to instruction. — aka jury charge; charge; jury direction; direction. [2]

1. Directions given to the jury by the judge just before she sends the jurors out to deliberate and return a verdict, explaining the law that applies in the case and spelling out what must be proven and by whom.
— aka charge.

instructions to jury:

1. To final charges given by the court to the jury upon the submission of the case to the jury, explaining the law of the case and pointing out the essentials to be proved on the one side or the other, the purpose being to furnish guidance to the jury in their deliberations, and to aid them in arriving at a proper verdict, so far as it is competent for the court to assist them.  53 Am J1st Trial § 509.

As usually understood, the term does not include anything which the court might say during the progress of the trial as to the purpose for which certain evidence is admitted as to what facts have been admitted by one side or the other; oral direction to the jury to reject evidence, made when it is given; directions during the trial to disregard improper or incompetent evidence given in the examination of the witness, or to disregard prejudicial remarks of counsel; oral directions as to the form of the verdict, or other comment and statements of the trial judge as to collateral matters made during trial.  53 Am J1st Trial § 508.

Types of Jury Instructions:

abstract instructions:

1. An instruction to the jury, which is generally regarded as insufficient and erroneous, that does not apply the law to the facts, but merely an abstract proposition of law.  53 Am J1st Tr § 573. [3]

additional instruction:

1. A jury charge, beyond the original instructions, that is usu. given in response to the jury’s question about the evidence or some point of law. — aka additional direction; further instruction; further direction.

affirmative converse instruction:

1. An instruction presenting a hypothetical that, if true, commands a verdict in favor of the defendant.  *  An affirmative converse instruction usu. begins with language such as “your verdict must be for the defendant if you believe . . . .” — aka affirmative converse direction.

affirmative instruction:

1. An instruction that removes an issue from the jury’s consideration, such as an instruction that whatever the evidence, the defendant cannot be convicted under the indictment count to which the charge is directed. — aka affirmative charge; affirmative direction.

argumentative instruction:

1. An instruction that assumes facts not in evidence, that singles out or unduly emphasizes a particular issue, theory, or defense, or that otherwise invades the jury’s province regarding the weight, probative value, or sufficiency of the evidence. — aka argumentative direction.

cautionary instruction:

1. A judge’s instruction to the jurors to disregard certain evidence or consider it for specific purposes only.

2. A judge’s instruction for the jury not to be influenced by outside factors and not to talk to anyone about the case while the trial is in progress. — aka cautionary direction; prophylactic jury instruction. [2]

conditional instruction:

1. An erroneous form of instruction to a jury b which the court directly or in effect instructs the jury that a charge is to be considered by them if evidence has been given to sustain it, and otherwise to disregard it. 53 Am J1st Trial § 553.

contradictory instructions:

1. Instructions given to the jury containing contradictory and conflicting rules without explanation, so that following one of them will lead to a result different from that which will obtain if another is followed.  53 Am J1st Trial § 557. [3]

curative instruction:

1. A court’s instruction to the jury to disregard something that should not have happened in court, such as an improper outburst, misconduct by a lawyer, or testimony that flouts an order in limine. — aka curative direction.

disparaging instruction:

1. A jury charge that discredits or defames a party to a lawsuit. — aka disparaging direction.

formula instruction:

1. A jury charge derived from a standardized statement of the law on which the jury must base its verdict. — aka formula direction.

general instruction:

1. Any jury instruction that does not present a question or issue to be answered. — aka general direction.

identification instruction:

1. An instruction cautioning jurors about the reliability of testimony as to a perpetrator’s appearance. — aka eyewitness-identification instruction; mistaken-identification instruction; identification direction; eyewitness-identification direction; mistaken-identification direction.

mandatory instruction:

1. An instruction requiring a jury to find for one party and against the other if the jury determines that, based on a preponderance of the evidence, a given set of facts exists. — aka binding instruction; mandatory direction; binding direction.

model jury instruction:

1. A form jury charge usually approved by a state bar association or similar group regarding matters arising in a typical case.  *  Courts usually accept model jury instructions as authoritative. — aka pattern jury instruction; pattern jury charge; model jury charge; model jury direction; pattern jury direction.

peremptory instruction:

1. A court’s explicit direction that a jury must obey, such as an instruction to return a verdict for a particular party. — aka peremptory direction.  See directed verdict under VERDICT (1).

single-juror instruction:

1. An instruction stating that if any juror is not reasonably satisfied with the plaintiff’s evidence, then the jury cannot render a verdict for the plaintiff. — aka single-juror direction.

special instruction:

1. An instruction on some particular point or question involved in the case, usually in response to counsel’s request for such an instruction. — aka special charge; special direction.

standard instruction:

1. A jury instruction that has been regularly used in a given jurisdiction. — aka standard direction.

theory-of-defense instruction:

1. A jury instruction whose purpose is to explain a defense theory that is not clearly or adequately explained by pattern or standard jury instructions.

Jury Instructions in Criminal Cases:

acquit-first instruction:

1. Criminal procedure. A jury instruction requiring jurors to consider a lesser charge only after acquitting the defendant of the more serious charge.  *  Generally speaking, a deadlocked jury may not consider a lesser offense. — aka acquittal-first instruction; sequential instruction. [2]

advisory instruction:

1. An instruction given by the court as to the law applicable in a criminal case in a jurisdiction where by constitution or statute the jury are the judges of the law as well as the facts.  53 Am J1st Trial § 847. [3]

adverse-inference instruction:

1. Criminal procedure. A court’s instruction to the jury that a negative conclusion may be drawn against a party based on evidence that was or was not produced at trial, as when a crucial witness (other than the defendant) did not testify, crucial evidence was not presented, or the defendant refused to take a breath test to measure blood alcohol content after being stopped for reckless or erratic driving. — aka adverse-inference charge.

no-adverse-inference instruction:

1. Criminal law. A jury instruction, granted at the request of the defense, that no negative conclusions are to be drawn from the fact that the defendant has not testified at trial. — aka no-adverse-inference charge.

Jewell instruction:

1. Criminal procedure.  A court’s instruction to the jury that the defendant can be found to have the requisite criminal mental state despite  being deliberately ignorant of some of the facts surrounding the crime.  *  If a defendant claims ignorance of some fact essential to the crime, such as not knowing that a particular bag contained drugs, but the surrounding circumstances would put a reasonable person on notice that there was a high probability of illegality, as when the defendant has taken the bag from a known drug-dealer and has noticed the smell of marijuana coming from the bag, then the court may instruct the jury that it is entitled to infer the defendant’s guilty knowledge if the defendant deliberately avoided knowledge of the critical facts.  U.S. v Jewell, 532 F.2d 697 (9th Cir. 1976). — aka deliberate-indifference instruction; deliberate -indifference direction.

willful-blindness instruction:

1. An instruction that an otherwise culpable defendant may be held accountable for a crime if the defendant deliberately avoided finding out about the crime. — aka conscious-avoidance instruction; willful-blindness direction; conscious-avoidance direction; ostrich instruction; ostrich direction. [2]


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[1]: Ballantine’s Law Dictionary Legal Assistant Edition by Jack Ballantine (James Arthur 1871-1949).  Doctored by Jack G. Handler, J.D. © 1994 Delmar by Thomson Learning.  ISBN 0-8273-4874-6.

[2]: Black’s Law Dictionary Deluxe Tenth Edition by Henry Campbell Black, Editor in Chief Bryan A. Garner. ISBN: 978-0-314-61300-4

[3]: Ballantine’s Law Dictionary with Pronunciations
Third Edition
 by James A. Ballantine (James Arthur 1871-1949).  Edited by William S. Anderson.  © 1969 by THE LAWYER’S CO-OPERATIVE PUBLISHING COMPANY.  Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 68-30931


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