Tag Archives: Sample Instructions


Felony Murder Special Circumstance: Knowledge Elements May Be Negated by Mental Impairment
September 17th, 2020

PC 190.2 (d) provides that, “for the purposes of those special circumstances based on the enumerated felonies in paragraph (17) of subdivision (a), which include robbery and burglary, an aider and abettor must have been a “major participant” and have acted “with reckless indifference to human life…’.” (People v. Clark (2016) 63 Cal.4th 522, 609.) […]


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Felony Murder Special Circumstance: Knowledge Elements May Be Negated by Intoxication
September 12th, 2020

PC 190.2 (d) provides that, “for the purposes of those special circumstances based on the enumerated felonies in paragraph (17) of subdivision (a), which include robbery and burglary, an aider and abettor must have been a “major participant” and have acted “with reckless indifference to human life…’.” (People v. Clark (2016) 63 Cal.4th 522, 609.) […]


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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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Reviewing Court Reverses Conviction and Enhancement Due to CALCRIM’s Erroneous Definition of Great Bodily Injury — Over 40 CC Instructions Potentially Affected
March 10th, 2020

People v. Medellin (Feb. 20, 2020, F076022) *** Cal.App.5th *** [pp. 12] concluded that the CALCRIM definition of “great bodily harm” [GBI] in CC 875 and CC 3160 erroneously allowed the prosecutor to argue and the jury to find GBI based on either greater than minor harm or greater than moderate harm. This “alternate theory […]


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Extortion: Sample Instruction on Affirmative Defense of Litigation Privilege
February 13th, 2020

In People v. Toledano DEPUBLISHED (2019) 36 Cal.App.5th 715 (G051787) a jury convicted Toledano of conspiracy to commit extortion and attempted extortion. The Court of Appeal reversed the judgment because the trial court prejudicially erred by not instructing the jury on Toledano’s affirmative defense that his actions were protected under the litigation privilege.   The […]


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How Should the Jury Be Instructed in a Death Penalty Case in Which the Defendant Asked for the Death Penalty?
October 25th, 2019

In People v. Anderson (2018) 5 Cal.5th 372, 423 the defendant asked the jury at the punishment phase to give him the death penalty. The California Supreme Court held that the instruction set forth below “was sufficient to protect defendant from an unreliable verdict.”   Sample Instruction:   Each of you remains obligated to decide […]


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Should Jurors Be Cautioned Regarding Accomplice Testimony Which Is Neutral Or Exonerating?
October 15th, 2019

In People v. Smith (2017) 12 Cal. App. 5th 766, 778-80 the judge instructed the jury per the standard CALCRIM instructions that accomplice testimony requires corroboration before the jury may accept it as true. The appellate Court criticized these instructions because they failed to explain that the supporting evidence requirements applies “only when [the accomplice] […]


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Is Accomplice Testimony “Exonerating” When It Tends to Incriminate the Defendant of Lesser Offense?
June 18th, 2019

CC 334 instructs that accomplice testimony requires corroboration before the jury may accept it as true. However, the defense may want to consider requesting modification of CC 334 when the defendant’s statements serve to show his guilt of a lesser offense than the charged offense. (See e.g., sample below.) Statements which mitigate or lessen the […]


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Should Defendant’s Statements Which Show Guilt of Lesser Offense Be Viewed with Caution?
June 7th, 2019

In People v. Powell (2018) 6 Cal. 5th 136; 169 the defendant contended that the cautionary instruction regarding the defendant’s out of court oral admissions (CJ 2.71.7) “pertains only to statements harmful to the defense.” The CSC apparently agreed that the instruction does not apply to exculpatory statements: “[T]his instruction properly applies to ‘any extrajudicial […]


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Modification of CC 3472 to Reflect Escalation Doctrine
December 11th, 2018

CC 3472 provides as follows:   “A person does not have the right to self-defense if he or she provokes a fight or quarrel with the intent to create an excuse to use force.”   Under the “plain terms” of this instruction the use of “any amount of ‘force’ entirely preclude[s] [a defendant] from invoking […]


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