Lying in Wait Special Circumstance: Judge Was Required to Sua Sponte Instruct on Circumstantial Evidence
November 2nd, 2018

In People v. Sandoval (2015) 62 Cal.4th 394 the CSC reversed the lying in wait special circumstance because the trial judge failed to sua sponte instruct, per CJ 8.83 or CJ 8,83.1 that between two reasonable inferences from circumstantial evidence, the jury must choose the inference pointing to innocence: “We … conclude that the prosecution’s case for the lying-in-wait special circumstance substantially relied on that circumstantial evidence, and that CALJIC No. 8.83 or No. 8.83.1, or its equivalent, should have been given sua sponte.” (Id. at 421.)

The Court held that the error was reversible because there was “a reasonable chance the jury would have found the lying-in-wait special circumstance not true” if the proper circumstantial evidence instruction had been given. (Id. at 422.)

Tags: , , , ,