Cautionary Instruction on Defendant’s Statements Not Required Sua Sponte
July 26th, 2016

In People v. Diaz (2015) 60 C4th 1176 the California Supreme Court reconsidered the requirement that the cautionary principle reflected in CALJIC 2.71.7 [now CC 358] must be given sua sponte. The Court decided that “in light of a change in the law that requires the general instructions on witness credibility to be given sua sponte in every case, the cautionary instruction is not one of the general principles of law upon which a court is required to instruct the jury in the absence of a request. The cautionary instruction does not reflect a legal principle with which jurors would be unfamiliar absent the instruction, and the defendant may not always want the instruction to be given.” (60 C4th at 1189.)

However, the Court has still not decided whether this holding applies retroactively, finding no prejudice to Diaz from the court’s failure to give the instruction. (Id. at 1195; see also People v. Salazar (2016) 63 C4th 214, 250 [same].)

See generally FORECITE PG V(A) [trial judge’s sua sponte duties to instruct].

See also, FORECITE F 362.1 Inst 9 Consciousness Of Guilt From False Statements: Defense Objection Precludes Instruction Which Benefits Defendant.

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