Definition of Deadly Weapon Corrected
July 3rd, 2015


People v. Brown (2012) 210 Cal. App. 4th 1, 4, considered weapons such as BB guns, and noted that CC 375’s definition of a “deadly weapon,” “which includes objects that are inherently ‘dangerous’ as well as inherently ‘deadly,’ is, at best, ambiguous and, at worst, overbroad.” “[CC 875] may impermissibly allow a jury to convict a defendant of assault with a deadly weapon if it finds the weapon employed was inherently dangerous, even if it rejects the notion that the instrument was inherently deadly or used in a manner capable of causing and likely to cause death or great bodily injury. That possibility, however theoretical it may be in most cases, should be obviated by an appropriate modification of the language in [CC 875].” (Id. at 11.)


In response to the Court of Appeal in Brown, the CC Committee revised CC 875, as well as other CC instructions which contained the definition of a deadly weapon, to delete the word “dangerous.” The CC Committee explained, “In People v. Brown (2012) 210 Cal. App.4th 1, the Court of Appeal for the Second Appellate District found fault with the definition of deadly weapon in [CC 875] and [CC 3145] because it contained a superfluous reference to the weapon also being “dangerous.” In response to that opinion, the advisory committee proposes deleting that word from [CC 875], bracketing as optional in [CC 3145], as well as deleting the word from seven other instructions, [CC 860], [CC 862], [CC 863],[CC 982], [CC 983], [CC 2503], and [CC 3130]. [¶] With the proposed revisions, the definition returns to the original language that the committee first circulated for public comment in 2004, based on the language of People v. Aguilar (1997) 16 Cal. 4th 1023, 1028-29.” (Advisory Committee on Criminal Jury Instructions, Report to the Judicial Council for meeting of February 26, 2013, p. 3.)

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