Tag Archives: Sua Sponte


Lying in Wait Special Circumstance: Judge Was Required to Sua Sponte Instruct on Circumstantial Evidence
November 2nd, 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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Instruction Concerning Double-Counting of Aggravating Factor must Be Requested
July 28th, 2016

People v. Salazar (2016) 63 C4th 214, 254 held that the double counting instruction must be requested: “Defendant claims his prior murder conviction was improperly used both as a special circumstance under section 190.2, subdivision (a) and as an aggravating factor under section 190.3, factors (b) and (c). He contends the jury should have been […]


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Cautionary Instruction on Defendant’s Statements Not Required Sua Sponte
July 26th, 2016

In People v. Diaz (2015) 60 C4th 1176 the California Supreme Court reconsidered the requirement that the cautionary principle reflected in CALJIC 2.71.7 [now CC 358] must be given sua sponte. The Court decided that “in light of a change in the law that requires the general instructions on witness credibility to be given sua […]


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Judge Has Sua Sponte duty to Give Cautionary Instruction re: Jury Conduct But Standard of Prejudice Not Resolved
July 19th, 2016

In People v. Carter (2010) 182 CA4th 522, 531-534 the reviewing court held that the failure to give CC 101 sua sponte was error. However, the parties disagreed on whether the harmless error analysis should be governed by People v. Watson (1956) 46 Cal.2d 818, 836 [not reasonably probable a more favorable result would have […]


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When Is A Possession Of Property Owned By Another A Victim Of Robbery
September 18th, 2015

People v. Scott (2009) 45 Cal. 4th 743, 751-757, discussed the language in CC 1600 dealing with constructive possession of property by store employees. Scott disapproved the Court of Appeal’s opinion in People v. Frazer (2003) 106 Cal. App. 4th 1105, to the extent that Frazer found that courts should adopt a narrow view regarding […]


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Reasonableness Of Victim’s Fear: Request For Instruction As Defense Theory
September 14th, 2015

People v. Morehead (2011) 191 Cal. App. 4th 765, held that CC 1600 was not invalid for failing to instruct the jury that a robbery victim’s fear must be reasonable. Morehead simply held that the court does not have a sua sponte duty to instruct the jury that a robbery victim’s fear must be reasonable. […]


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Accident as Defense Theory: Not Required Sua Sponte
June 12th, 2015

  When the defense theory of accident is an attempt to negate the intent element of the crime, the trial judge has no sua sponte duty to give CC 3404. (CC 3404 Bench Notes, Citing People v. Anderson (2011) 51 Cal. 4th 989, 997-998.)


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Consciousness of Guilt: False Statements–Duty To Instruct Sua Sponte Is Unclear
April 27th, 2015

  The bench notes to CC 362 were revised to delete the statement that “The court has a sua sponte duty to instruct on consciousness of guilt. . ..” The Committee concluded that it was ambiguous whether or not a sua sponte duty existed here. (Advisory Committee on Criminal Jury Instructions, Report to the Judicial […]


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Witness Credibility Factors: Sua Sponte Duty to Delete Inapplicable Factors
April 13th, 2015

  The court has a sua sponte duty to give an instruction on factors relevant to a witness’s credibility. However, not all of the factors will apply in each case. Therefore, the court should strike those factors inapplicable in a case. Failure to do so may cause jurors to speculate about what evidence was not […]


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Evidence Limited to Courtroom: Sua Sponte Duty to Admonish
April 10th, 2015

  The court has a sua sponte duty to give CC 101, limiting jurors to considering evidence that is presented in the courtroom. (See People v. Carter (2010)182 Cal. App. 4th 522.)   It is critical that jurors be instructed that they cannot conduct any independent research on a case and should not discuss the […]


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