Involuntary Manslaughter: Existence of Legal Duty As Jury Question
August 10th, 2015

The Bench Notes state that the determination of whether a defendant has a legal duty is one to be decided by the judge, not the jury. However, this conclusion violates United States Supreme Court precedents which require that every element of an enhancement must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt and found true by a jury or admitted by the defendant. (See People v. Blakely (2000) 23 Cal. 4th 82, 94-100.) Thus, the issue of whether the defendant has a legal duty should be decided by the jury. The portion of the CC telling the jury that the defendant does have a legal duty should not be given.

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