Provocative Act of Murder: Applicability of Concurrent Causation and Transferred Intent Under Review in CSC
June 14th, 2021

As Justice Kennard explained in her concurring opinion in Sanchez, (People v. Sanchez (2001) 26 C4th 834) the underlying distinction between Cervantes (People v. Cervantes (2001) 26 C4th 860) and Sanchez is that the former was a revenge killing while the latter was mutual combat. In Sanchez the defendant and the rival gang member were firing at each other when a bullet from one of their guns killed the bystander. Hence, the defendant was guilty under the provocative act doctrine in light of the principles of concurrent causation and transferred intent. In Cervantes the defendant fired at a rival gang member after which other members of the rival gang shot and killed a third party in revenge. Because the person at whom the defendant had fired in Cervantes did not participate in the killing of the third party and because the third party was not killed during an exchange of shots at a single time and place, proximate and legal causation were not established. (Sanchez, 26 C4th at 857, Kennard, J., concurring.)

However, the CSC is currently considering the Sanchez concurrent cause doctrine in People v. Carney, S260063. (C077558; nonpublished opinion; rev. gtd.3/25/2020.) Review limited to the following issues: (1) Does the “substantial concurrent causation” theory of liability of People v. Sanchez (2001) 26 Cal.4th 834 permit a conviction for first degree murder if the defendants did not fire the shot that killed the victim? (2)What impact, if any, do People v. Chiu (2014) 59 Cal.4th 155 and Senate Bill No. 1437 (Stats. 2018, ch. 1015, §1, subd. (f)) have on the rule of Sanchez?

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