Tag Archives: Defense Theory Instructions

Defense Theory: Defendant On Medication And No Longer Violent
December 20th, 2022

Defense counsel is entitled to expressly argue that defendant will not present any future danger in prison because he has been on medication provided by custodial authorities for several years and that medication has eliminated his violent tendencies.  (People v. Parker (2017) 2 Cal.5th 1184, 1231.)   Thus, upon request the defense should have the […]

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Death Penalty: Sympathy for Defendant’s Family — Instruction and Argument
June 21st, 2022

CC 763 includes the following optional clarifications regarding the jurors’ consideration of sympathy for the defendant’s family in a death penalty case. [Although you may consider sympathy or compassion for the defendant, you may not let sympathy for the defendant’s family influence your decision. [However, you may consider evidence about the impact the defendant’s execution […]

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CC 401 Erroneously Allows the Jurors to Consider the Defendant’s Presence During the Crim or Failure to Prevent the Crime to Find the Actus Reus of Aiding and Abetting Liability
March 2nd, 2022

In People v. K.M. (In re K.M.) ___ Cal App ___ (Feb. 17, 2022, A159962) [pp. 5-7] the prosecution asserted that K.M. was guilty of aiding and abetting a robbery because his very presence at the scene of the crime assisted the perpetrator of the robbery. However, the reviewing court correctly reversed the judgement because […]

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Mistake of Law as Defense Theory to Specific Intent Crime
October 4th, 2021

The court has a sua sponte duty to give CC 3411 if a defendant charged with a specific intent crime is appropriately relying on this defense or there is substantial evidence that a defendant’s good faith mistake of law provides a valid defense to a specific intent crime and the defense is not inconsistent with […]

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CSC to Consider What Standard of Prejudice Applies to Instructional Error on Defense Theory
July 26th, 2021

In People v. Hendrix REV. GTD. 1/20/21 S265668 (B298952; 55 Cal.App.5th 1092) the defendant told police that he entered the victim’s backyard and tried to force entries believing this to be his cousin Trevor’s house. The reviewing court acknowledged that appellant if subjectively believed that he was at Trevor’s house, the jury could, in theory, […]

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Overcoming the “Walking Dictionary Myth” When Instructing the Jury
March 17th, 2021

Jury instruction jurisprudence attempts to draw a “bright line” distinction between terms which have a technical, specialized legal meaning and those which are defined by their common dictionary meaning. On one side of this “bright line” the trial judge must sua sponte define terms which have a “technical meaning peculiar to the law.” (See People […]

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Felony Murder: Uncharged Predicate Felony Must Still be Proved Beyond a Reasonable Doubt
March 15th, 2021

PRACTICE NOTE: When a defendant is charged with a felony murder but not the predicate underlying felony, “there is a requirement of proof beyond a reasonable doubt of the underlying felony” (People v. Hart (1999) 20 Cal.4th 546, 609) and “…the defendant is entitled, upon request, to a specific instruction on the necessity of proving […]

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Propriety of Pinpoint Instructions Which Elaborate and Clarify Other Instructions
October 25th, 2020

“A trial court must instruct on the law applicable to the facts of the case.” (People v. Mincey (1992) 2 Cal.4th 408, 437.) “[L]legally correct and factually warranted pinpoint instructions designed to elaborate and clarify other instructions should be delivered upon request.” (People v. Hughes (2002) 27 Cal.4th 287, 362 italics omitted; People v. Woods […]

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Deficiencies in Defense Evidence Cannot Make up for Shortcomings in Prosecution’s Evidence
August 13th, 2020

[Update of February 3rd, 2015 post] People v. Centeno (2014) 60 Cal. 4th 659 provides an important clarification of the presumption of innocence and the prosecution’s burden of proof: “…[D]eficiencies in the defense case [cannot] make up for shortcomings in [the prosecution’s case].” (Id., at 673.) For example, in People v. Brito (Sep. 19, 2019, […]

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Dissenting Opinion Cogently Explains Basis for Defense Requested Pinpoint Instructions
May 29th, 2020

In People v. Ramirez (2019) 40 Cal.App.5th 305 the majority opinion concluded that the defendant’s request for pinpoint instructions related to voluntary manslaughter because one instruction was duplicative of CALCRIM No. 570 and another was argumentative. The dissenting opinion provides a good discussion of why the defense has the right to pinpoint instructions which “pinpoint […]