Tag Archives: Felony Murder


CC 540B Factors Relevant to Whether Defendant Acted with Reckless Indifference to Human Life
March 4th, 2020

People v. Clark (2016) 63 Cal.4th 522, 614-620 identified certain factors to guide the jury in its determination of whether the defendant acted with reckless indifference to human life but did not hold that the court has a sua sponte duty to instruct on those factors. Clark noted that these factors had been applied by […]


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CC 540B Factors Relevant to Whether Defendant Acted with Reckless Indifference to Human Life
March 4th, 2020

People v. Clark (2016) 63 Cal.4th 522, 614-620 identified certain factors to guide the jury in its determination of whether the defendant acted with reckless indifference to human life but did not hold that the court has a sua sponte duty to instruct on those factors. Clark noted that these factors had been applied by […]


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Is Felony Murder Based on “Inherently Dangerous” Felony Unconstitutionally Vague?
November 5th, 2019

People v. Frandsen (2019) 33 Cal.App.5th 1126 held that the California second-degree felony-murder, which requires a felony “inherently dangerous to human life” in the abstract, is not unconstitutionally vague.  Johnson v. United States (2015) 576 U.S. ___ [192 L.Ed.2d 569, 135 S.Ct. 2551] is distinguishable. Unlike the federal sentencing statute invalidated in Johnson, California’s second-degree […]


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Felony Murder: Reckless Indifference” for Tison Finding Must Not Be Based On Defendant’s Actions After The Crime
September 3rd, 2019

In re Taylor (2019) 34 Cal. App. 5th 543 held that given the lack of evidence that defendant planned anything more dangerous than a garden-variety armed robbery, reckless disregard to the risk to human life, for purposes of the felony murder special circumstance under PC 190.2 (d), was not established by defendant’s actions after the […]


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CALCRIM Proposes Changes to Felony Murder/Accomplice Instructions Per SB 1437 to Be Effective September 24, 2019
June 14th, 2019

The proposed modifications are summarized in an “Invitation to Comment” (5/28 – 7/5/19; CALCRIM-2019-01). The proposed effective date of the changes is 9/24/19. CALCRIM summarizes the proposed felony murder/accomplice changes as follows:   Senate Bill No. 1437 (2017-2018 Reg. Sess.) substantially changed accomplice liability for felony murder. Malice may no longer be imputed simply from […]


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Felony Murder: One Continuous Transaction–Defined
July 13th, 2015

  People v. Wilkins (2013) 56 Cal. 4th 333, 342, noted that the Bench Notes for CC 3261 maintain that an instruction on the “escape rule” should not be given in a case involving felony murder. However, in a felony murder case where the facts warranted it, the court must instruct the jury under CC […]


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Felony Murder: Applicability of Duress to Underlying Felony
July 10th, 2015

  When a murder is based on a felony murder theory, the court has a sua sponte duty to give a duress defense instruction (CC 3402) if the defendant claims that he or she committed the underlying felony under duress. (CC 3402 Bench Notes.)  However, if the defendant formed the intent to be an aider […]


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Act Causing Death Not Distinct from Underlying Felony
July 6th, 2015

  On April 23, 2010, CC 540A, as well as CC 540B and CC 540C, were revised. As explained by the CC Committee, it was pointed out to them that the first degree felony murder instructions refer to the “act causing death” as though it were distinct from the underlying felony and this could be […]


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No Causation Instruction In Single Perpetrator Felony Murder Case
May 1st, 2014

  The causation instruction in CC 240 should not be used in single-perpetrator felony murder cases. CC 730 correctly specifies that felony murder encompasses a far wider range of individual culpability than other murders. (People v. Huynh (2012) 212 Cal. App. 4th 285, 310-311.)


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Grossly Negligent Shooting Of Firearm: Defense Theory Of Belief That Gun Was Unloaded
March 30th, 2014

    If the defendant actually believed that the firearm he or she discharged was unloaded, the defendant has not violated this statute. (People v. Robertson (2004) 34 Cal. 4th 156.) However, Robertson was overruled in People v. Chun (2009) 45 Cal. 4th 1172, as follows:   To avoid the anomaly of putting a person […]


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