CC 1403 Limited Purpose Of Evidence Of Gang Activity
July 30th, 2014


In People v. Samaniego (2009) 172 Cal. App. 4th 1148, the defendant argued that it was improper to instruct the jury with CC 1403 because it allowed the jury to consider gang expert testimony as to motive and witness credibility under the optional clauses of CC 1403.


The Court of Appeal disagreed stating that “[g]ang evidence is relevant and admissible when the very reason for the underlying crime, that is the motive, is gang related. [Citation.] [B]ecause a motive is ordinarily the incentive for criminal behavior, its probative value generally exceeds it prejudicial effect, and wide latitude is permitted in admitting evidence of its existence. [Citations.]. . .[and] Gang evidence is also relevant on the issue of a witness’s credibility.” (Id. at 1167-1168.)


Thus, the court concluded:


[CC1403], as given here, is neither contrary to law nor misleading. It states in no uncertain terms that gang evidence is not admissible to show that the defendant is a bad person or has a criminal propensity. It allows such evidence to be considered only on the issues germane to the gang enhancement, the motive for the crime and the credibility of witnesses. (Id at. 1168.)

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