Death Penalty: Aggravating and Mitigating Circumstances
August 21st, 2015

CC 763, which lists those factors that can be considered in the penalty phase of death penalty trials, was revised on December 9, 2008. As explained by the Advisory Committee on Criminal Jury Instructions in its report to the Judicial Council, CC 763 “was revised to clarify that ‘violent criminal activity’ only includes crimes directed at a person, not at animals or personal property.” (Advisory Committee on Criminal Jury Instructions Report (Oct. 10, 2008), at p. 1.) Accordingly, CC 763 was amended to state that “Violent criminal activity is criminal activity involving the unlawful use, or attempt to use, or direct or implied threat to use force or violence against a person.” The revision was a result of the opinion in People v. Doolin (2009) 45 Cal. 4th 390, which excluded force against animals as an aggravating factor.

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