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False Report of Crime:
Pinpoint Instruction As To Negation of Knowledge
The burden is on the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that, at the time defendant made the report to the police, [he] [she] had actual knowledge that no felony or misdemeanor was committed. [¶] The defendant has introduced evidence that [he] [she] actually believed a felony or misdemeanor was committed and, therefore, did not have actual knowledge that the report was false. [¶] If after considering all the evidence you have a reasonable doubt whether the defendant knew the report [he] [she] made was false, you must give the defendant the benefit of the doubt and find [him] [her] not guilty.
Points and Authorities
The defendant has the right to “‘direct attention to evidence from … which a reasonable doubt could be engendered.’ [Citation.]” (People v. Hall (80) 28 C3d 143, 159 [167 CR 844]; People v. Sears (70) 2 C3d 180, 190 [84 CR 711].) Hence, the defendant may obtain a pinpoint instruction which relates “his [evidentiary theory] to an element of the offense.” (People v. Saille (91) 54 C3d 1103, 1120 [2 CR 364]; see also, People v. Wright (88) 45 C3d 1126, 1136-37 [248 CR 600] [pinpoint instruction proper if it is predicated upon defendant’s theory].) (See FORECITE PG III(A).)
Examples of such instructions are CJ 2.91 (eyewitness testimony), CJ 4.50 (alibi) and CJ 4.21 (intoxication). (CJ 2.91 and CJ 4.50 approved in Wright; CJ 4.21 approved in Saille.) The instruction proposed in the present case relates defendant’s evidentiary theory — that he actually thought a felony or misdemeanor had been committed — to an element of the charge — an actual knowledge that the report is false.
Because the proposed instruction is the proper subject of a pinpoint instruction and because it follows the judicially approved form for such instructions (see CJ 2.91 and CJ 4.50) it should be given as requested.
Failure to adequately instruct the jury upon matters relating to proof of any element of the charge and/or the prosecution’s burden of proof thereon violates the defendant’s state (Art. I, § 15 and § 16) and federal (6th and 14th Amendments) constitutional rights to trial by jury and due process. [See generally, FORECITE PG VII(C).]
In cases where specific acts were actually committed but there is an issue as to whether or not the defendant knew those acts constituted a misdemeanor or a felony, the instruction may be supplemented to include the following language: “If after considering all the evidence you have a reasonable doubt that defendant had actual knowledge that the acts committed constituted a misdemeanor or felony you must give the defendant the benefit of the doubt and find [him] [her] not guilty.”