August 2nd, 2022

Jury instructions “are not themselves the law,” “are not authority to establish legal propositions or precedent,” and “should not be cited as authority for legal principles in appellate opinions. [Citation] “At most, when they are accurate , … they restate the law.” ([citation], italics added by Montoyo court.) (People v. Montoya (2021) 68 Cal.App.5th 980, 999-1000.)

For example, in People v. Burgess (2021) 60 Cal.App.5th 885, 893 the defendant maintained that his PC 29815 conviction must be reversed because no evidence showed his firearm restriction probation condition was ordered by a court. He pointed to the language in two jury instructions, CALCRIM Nos. 2512 and 3500, the first stating the jury must find a court ordered the firearm restriction and the second stating that his charge was “possession of a firearm by a person prohibited by a court order.” From these, Burgess argued that an essential element of the offense—a court-ordered firearms restriction probation condition—had not been met.

The reviewing court rejected the defense contention because CALCRIM is “not the law….” (Ibid.) “Because the instructions are not binding, whatever the Judicial Council intended by them does not affect our analysis. [Citation]” People v. Burgess (2021) 60 Cal.App.5th 885, 893

See also PG I(B) – Duty of Court to Go Beyond the Standard Pattern Instructions


CALCRIM Is Not the Law June 3rd, 2021

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