Tag Archives: Defense Theory Instructions

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 […]

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Defense Theory Instruction On Lesser Included Offense Must Be Given Even If Evidence Of Lesser Offense Is “Unconvincing Or Subject To Justifiable Suspicion”
August 26th, 2019

“California law requires a trial court, sua sponte, to instruct fully on all lesser necessarily included offenses supported by the evidence.” (People v. Breverman (1998) 19 Cal.4th 142, 148–149.) The requirement applies when there is substantial evidence that the defendant committed the lesser offense instead of the greater offense. (Id. at pp. 162, 177.) “In […]

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September 5th, 2017

CALCRIM 401 correctly states that “being present as the scene of the crime or [failure] to prevent the crime does not, by itself, make [a person] an aider and abettor.” (See People v. Durham (1969) 70 C2d 171, 181; In re Jose T. (1991) 230 CA3d 1455, 1460.)   However, the CALCrim language is incomplete […]

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Mens Rea and PTSD
August 22nd, 2016

People v. Herrera (2016) 247 CA4th 467 held that exclusion of psychiatric testimony regarding the defendant’s post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) required reversal of his murder conviction. PC 28 and 29 limit the use of mental disorder evidence to negate a defendant’s capacity to form any mental state is prohibited, but may be offered on the […]

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Lesser Related Offenses: Conflict Between Birks and the Right to Present a Defense
July 27th, 2016

In People v. Salazar (2016) 63 C4th 214, 251 the defendant unsuccessfully sought instruction on accessory after the fact as a lesser related offense. The Court, in reliance on People v. Birks (98) 19 C4th 108 [Birks], held that such an instruction is permissible only on stipulation of the parties. (See also People v. Rangel […]

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Defense Has No Burden to Prove Any Specific Facts
July 13th, 2016

CC 100, paragraph 3, sentence 4, provides as follows: “Because (he/she/they) (is/are) presumed innocent, the defendant[s] (does/do) not have to prove that (he/she/they) (is/are) not guilty.” CC 100 is technically correct as far as it goes. (See People v. Ibarra (2007) 156 CA4th 1174, 1179.) However, it only discusses the presumption of innocence in the […]

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Small Amount of Controlled Substance Relevant to Knowledge
November 16th, 2015

CC 2376 defines usable amount as an amount in a quantity sufficient to be used as a controlled substance, claiming that there is no requirement that the amount be enough to affect the user. However, the California Supreme Court has made it clear that a very small amount of a controlled substance is relevant to […]

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Marijuana Distribution: Minimal Movement as Defense Theory
November 13th, 2015

CC 2361 defines the term “transports” as carrying or moving an item from one location to another, even if the distance is short. However, minimal movement that does not facilitate use or trafficking does not qualify as transportation. The requirement of volitional transport of methamphetamine from one location to another avoids any unwarranted extension of […]

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