Tag Archives: Standard of Prejudice


CSC Review Granted: Prejudicial Effect of Failure to Instruct on Intent to Kill Element for Accomplice Liability re: Multiple Murder Special Circumstance
August 5th, 2019

“Under California law, a person who aids and abets the commission of a crime is a ‘principal’ in the crime, and thus shares the guilt of the actual perpetrator.” (People v. Prettyman (1996) 14 Cal.4th 248, 259; People v. McCoy (2001) 25 Cal.4th 1111, 1116-1117; see § 31.) Therefore, “a person who aids and abets […]


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California Supreme Court Grants Review to Consider the Standard of Prejudice When Jury Instructed on Both Legally Valid and Invalid Theories of Conviction
November 9th, 2018

People v. Aledamat REVIEW GRANTED (2018) 20 Cal.App.5th 1149, 1153-1154 reversed a conviction for assault with a deadly weapon based on the following description of the standard of review:   When an appellate court determines that a trial court has presented a jury with two theories supporting a conviction—one       legally valid and one legally […]


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Watson Standard of Prejudice on Appeal Requires “Merely a Reasonable Chance” of a More Favorable Result
November 7th, 2018

In People v. Sandoval (2015) 62 Cal.4th 394 the CSC reversed the lying in wait special circumstance because the trial judge failed to sua sponte instruct, per CJ 8.83 or CJ 8,83.1 that between two reasonable inferences from circumstantial evidence, the jury must choose the inference pointing to innocence: “We … conclude that the prosecution’s […]


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Review Granted To Consider Standard Of Prejudice For Instruction On Legally Incorrect Theory Of Prosecution
September 27th, 2018

People v. Aledamat [DEPUBLISHED] (2018) 20 Cal.App.5th 1149, 1153-1154 observed that the CSC’s cases articulating the standard of prejudice for instructional error are “arguably in tension.” (Comparing People v. Guiton (1993) 4 Cal.4th 1116, 1122, 1129 [conviction must be reversed “absent a basis in the record to find that the verdict was actually based on […]


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Party With Burden of Proof Loses When the Fact Finder is “On the Fence”
March 12th, 2018

Placing any burden at all on the defense, however slight, can be a “game changer” because such a burden requires uncertain or undecided jurors to side with the prosecution instead of the defense. In other words, when the fact finder is uncertain the unburdened party “‘must win.'[Citation.]” (People v. Jackson (2014) 58 Cal. 4th 724, […]


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Lesser Included Offenses: Accusatory Pleading Test – Consideration of Evidence from Probable Cause Showing
March 14th, 2017

People v. Ortega (2015) 240 Cal.App.4th 956, 967 held that: “Due process principles of fairness, and defendant’s right to be prosecuted only on the noticed charges consistent with the probable cause showing supporting the accusatory pleading, compel us to agree that sexual battery is a lesser included offense of forcible sexual penetration where, as here, […]


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Standard of Prejudice: Penalty Phase Error
October 10th, 2016

People v. Grimes (2016)1 Cal.5th 698, 721-23 held that under California law trial court’s erroneous exclusion of evidence is harmless as to penalty unless there is a “reasonable possibility” that the jury would have rendered a different verdict had the erroneously excluded evidence been presented to the jury.  The “reasonable possibility” standard is “the same, […]


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Reversible Chiu Error: Not Clear Beyond A Reasonable Doubt That Jurors Rejected Natural and Probable Consequences Theory
August 22nd, 2016

People v. Brown (2016) 247 CA4th 211 reversed Brown’s first degree murder conviction in light of People v. Chiu (2014) 59 Cal.4th 155. The jury was instructed on three first degree murder theories: (1) Brown was the actual killer, (2) he aided and abetted the actual killer with the intent to kill, and (3) he […]


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Chun Error: 9th Circuit overturns CSC Finding of harmless error
August 15th, 2016

Chun was convicted of second-degree felony murder based on shooting at an occupied motor vehicle either directly or as an aider and abetter. He appealed, arguing that felony murder was inapplicable under the merger doctrine. He also contended that improperly giving the jury the felony murder instruction allowed the jury to convict him of second-degree […]


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Chiu Error: Review Granted to Reconsider People v. Favor (2012) 54 Cal.4th 868
August 15th, 2016

The CSC has granted review in several cases to consider whether to convict an aider and abettor of attempted willful, deliberate and premeditated murder under the natural and probable consequences doctrine, must a premeditated attempt to murder have been a natural and probable consequence of the target offense? In other words, should People v. Favor […]


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