Whether Defendant May Be Convicted Based Only on an Admission/Confession
June 15th, 2015


CC 359 is deficient to the extent it lends itself to an interpretation that criminal defendants could be convicted on the basis of extrajudicial statements alone that they committed a crime. (People v. Rivas (2013) 214 Cal. App. 4th 1410.) The first paragraph of CC 359 correctly informed the jury that, “A defendant may not be convicted of any crime based on his out-of-court statements alone. You may only rely on the defendant’s out-of-court statements to convict him if you conclude that other evidence shows that the charged crimes were committed.” However, the instruction’s third paragraph told the jury that, “The identity of the person who committed the crimes and the degree of the crimes may be proved by the defendant’s statement alone.” The reviewing court complained that “It may well be that in the third paragraph of [CC 359] the drafters intended simply to convey the idea that identity is not part of the corpus delicti rule which requires corroboration. But they did so in a most unfortunate way.” The Court of Appeal urged the drafters of the CC to reconsider its wording.


However, another court decision concluded that CC 359 accurately states the law concerning proof of identity by a defendant’s extrajudicial statements. (People v. Rosales (2014) 222 Cal. App. 4th 1254, 1259-1260.)

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