Tag Archives: Mens Rea


CC 370 (Motive): Will Lay Jurors Understand the Subtle Difference Between Intent – Which Is an Element of the Charge – and Motive – Which Is Not?
March 14th, 2017

The CSC has suggested that lay jurors will readily understand the subtle distinction between intent – which is an element of many crimes – and motive – which is generally not an element …[A]lthough malice and certain intents and purposes are elements of the crimes, as the court correctly instructed the jury, motive is not […]


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Motive Instruction: Clarification Of Problematic Burden Shifting Language
March 14th, 2017

As revised in August 2016, CALCRIM 370 provides as follows: The People are not required to prove that the defendant had a motive to commit (any of the crimes/the crime) charged. In reaching your verdict you may, however, consider whether the defendant had a motive. Having a motive may be a factor tending to show that the defendant […]


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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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CC 3428 Too Narrowly Limits Jurors’ Use of Mental State Evidence
July 11th, 2016

In People v. Townsel (2016) 63 C4th 25, the jury was instructed with a version of CJ 3.32 which provided as follows: “Evidence has been received regarding a mental defect or mental disorder of the defendant, Anthony Townsel at the time of the crime charged in Counts 1 and 2. You may consider such evidence […]


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Stalking Instruction Upheld But Has Possible Problem
September 4th, 2015

The language of CC 1301 was upheld against several challenges in People v. Ibarra (2007) 156 Cal. App. 4th 1174, 1195-1197. In Ibarra, the Court of Appeal also rejected a request for a unanimity instruction noting that stalking always involves a continuous course of conduct over a period of time. (Id. at 1198.) The Court […]


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Malice and Voluntary Intoxication
August 14th, 2015

People v. Turk (2008) 164 Cal. App. 4th 1361, 1382, rejected the defendant’s argument that the instruction gave insufficient guidance that malice aforethought and intent to kill are the same thing. The jury was instructed under CC 520 in defining murder that, “[t]he defendant acted with express malice if he unlawfully intended to kill.” (Ibid.)  […]


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Aider And Abettor: Natural And Probable Consequences – Unanimity As To Commission Of Nontarget Offense
January 21st, 2015

  The majority opinion in People v. Smith (2014) 60 Cal. 4th 603 concluded that the requirement of juror unanimity as to all essential elements of the charge does not apply to commission of the nontarget offense alleged under the natural and probable consequences doctrine:    The prosecution theory was that Littleton was the killer. […]


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GBI: Intent To Inflict GBI Not Required
May 30th, 2014

People v. Poroj (2011) 190 Cal. App. 4th 165, 168, upheld CC 3160, finding that the instruction correctly explained that the enhancement for personally inflicting great bodily injury in PC § 12022.7, “does not require a showing of intent to inflict GBI, separate or apart from the intent required to commit the felony or attempted […]


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