Criminal Law

2004. Insurance Fraud: Destruction of Insured Property

The defendant is charged [in Count ______] with (injuring[,]/ [or] destroying[,]/ [or] hiding[,]/ [or] abandoning[,]/ [or] disposing of) insured property with intent to defraud.

To prove that the defendant is guilty of this crime, the People must prove that:

1. The defendant (injured[,]/ [or] destroyed[,]/ [or] hid[,]/ [or] abandoned[,]/ [or] disposed of) property that was insured against loss or damage from (theft[,]/ [or] embezzlement[,]/ [or] any casualty other than fire);


2. When the defendant did that act, (he/she) intended to (defraud/ [or] prejudice) the insurer.

Someone intends to defraud if he or she intends to deceive another person either to cause a loss of (money[,]/ [or] goods[,]/ [or] services[,]/ [or] something [else] of value), or to cause damage to, a legal, financial, or property right.

[For the purpose of this instruction, a person includes (a governmental agency/a corporation/a business/an association/the body politic).]

[It is not necessary that anyone actually be defrauded or actually suffer a financial, legal, or property loss as a result of the defendant's acts.]

[It does not matter whether the defendant or someone else owned or possessed the property.]

Bench Notes

Instructional Duty

The court has a sua sponte duty to give this instruction defining the elements of the crime.

Give the bracketed sentence that begins with "For the purpose of this instruction" if the evidence shows an intent to defraud an entity or association rather than a natural person. (Pen. Code, § 8.)

Give the bracketed sentence that begins with "It is not necessary" if the evidence shows that the defendant did not succeed in defrauding anyone.

Give the bracketed sentence that begins with "It does not matter" if there is evidence that someone else owned or possessed the property.

For arson, see the Arson series, CALCRIM No. 1500 et seq.


Elements. Pen. Code, § 548(a).

Intent to Defraud. People v. Pugh (2002) 104 Cal.App.4th 66, 72 [127 Cal.Rptr.2d 770]; People v. Gaul-Alexander (1995) 32 Cal.App.4th 735, 745 [38 Cal.Rptr.2d 176].

Intent to Defraud Entity. Pen. Code, § 8.

Secondary Sources

2 Witkin & Epstein, California Criminal Law (3d ed. 2000) Crimes Against Property, § 188.

6 Millman, Sevilla & Tarlow, California Criminal Defense Practice, Ch. 143, Crimes Against Property, §§ 143.01[1], 143.11[2] (Matthew Bender).

Lesser Included Offenses

Attempted Destruction or Disposal of Property. Pen. Code, §§ 664, 548; People v. Splawn (1985) 165 Cal.App.3d 553, 559 [211 Cal.Rptr.


Related Issues

Disposes Of

" '[D]isposes of' in Penal Code section 548 requires a definite change of control [of the property]." (People v. Splawn (1985) 165 Cal.App.3d 553, 558 [211 Cal.Rptr. 638].)

(New January 2006)