CALCRIM No. 250. Union of Act and Intent: General Intent
Judicial Council of California Criminal Jury Instructions (2020 edition)Download PDF
D. UNION OF ACT AND INTENT
250.Union of Act and Intent: General Intent
The crime[s] [or other allegation[s]] charged in this case require[s] proof
of the union, or joint operation, of act and wrongful intent.
For you to find a person guilty of the crime[s] (in this case/ of
<insert name[s] of alleged offense[s] and count[s], e.g.,
battery, as charged in Count 1> [or to find the allegation[s] of
<insert name[s] of enhancement[s]> true]), that person must
not only commit the prohibited act [or fail to do the required act], but
must do so with wrongful intent. A person acts with wrongful intent
when he or she intentionally does a prohibited act [or fails to do a
required act]; however, it is not required that he or she intend to break
the law. The act required is explained in the instruction for that crime
New January 2006; Revised June 2007, April 2008, April 2011
The court has a sua sponte duty to instruct on the union of act and general criminal
intent. (People v. Jeffers (1996) 41 Cal.App.4th 917, 920-923 [49 Cal.Rptr.2d 86].)
However, this instruction must not be used if the crime requires a specific mental
state, such as knowledge or malice, even if the crime is classified as a general intent
offense. In such cases, the court must give CALCRIM No. 251, Union of Act and
Intent: Specific Intent or Mental State.
If the case involves both offenses requiring a specific intent or mental state and
offenses that do not, the court may give CALCRIM No. 252, Union of Act and
Intent: General and Specific Intent Together, in place of this instruction.
The court should specify for the jury which offenses require only a general criminal
intent by inserting the names of the offenses and count numbers where indicated in
the second paragraph of the instruction. (People v. Hill (1967) 67 Cal.2d 105, 118
[60 Cal.Rptr. 234, 429 P.2d 586].) If all the charged crimes and allegations involve
general intent, the court need not provide a list in the blank provided in this
If the defendant is charged with aiding and abetting or conspiracy to commit a
general-intent offense, the court must instruct on the specific intent required for
aiding and abetting or conspiracy. (See People v. McCoy (2001) 25 Cal.4th 1111,
1117-1118 [108 Cal.Rptr.2d 188, 24 P.3d 1210]; People v. Bernhardt, supra, 222
Cal.App.2d at pp. 586-587.)
If the defendant is also charged with a criminal negligence or strict liability offense,
insert the name of the offense where indicated in the first sentence. The court may
also give CALCRIM No. 253, Union of Act and Intent: Criminal Negligence, or
CALCRIM No. 254, Union of Act and Intent: Strict-Liability Crime.
Defenses - Instructional Duty
“A person who commits a prohibited act ‘through misfortune or by accident, when it
appears that there was no evil design, intention or culpable negligence’ has not
committed a crime.” (People v. Jeffers (1996) 41 Cal.App.4th 917, 922 [49
Cal.Rptr.2d 86] [quoting Pen. Code, § 26].) Similarly, an honest and reasonable
mistake of fact may negate general criminal intent. (People v. Hernandez (1964) 61
Cal.2d 529, 535-536 [39 Cal.Rptr. 361, 393 P.2d 673].) If there is sufficient
evidence of these or other defenses, such as unconsciousness, the court has a sua
sponte duty to give the appropriate defense instructions. (See Defenses and Insanity,
CALCRIM No. 3400 et seq.)
• Statutory Authority. Pen. Code, § 20; see also Evid. Code, §§ 665, 668.
• Instructional Requirements. People v. Hill (1967) 67 Cal.2d 105, 117 [60
Cal.Rptr. 234, 429 P.2d 586]; People v. Bernhardt (1963) 222 Cal.App.2d 567,
586-587 [35 Cal.Rptr. 401]; People v. Jeffers (1996) 41 Cal.App.4th 917,
920-923 [49 Cal.Rptr.2d 86].
• History of General-Intent Requirement. Morissette v. United States (1952) 342
U.S. 246 [72 S.Ct. 240, 96 L.Ed.2d 288]; see also People v. Garcia (2001) 25
Cal.4th 744, 754 [107 Cal.Rptr.2d 355, 23 P.3d 590].
• This Instruction Upheld. People v. Ibarra (2007) 156 Cal.App.4th 1174, 1189
[67 Cal.Rptr.3d 871].
Sex Registration and Knowledge of Legal Duty
The offense of failure to register as a sex offender requires proof that the defendant
actually knew of his or her duty to register. (People v. Garcia (2001) 25 Cal.4th
744, 754 [107 Cal.Rptr.2d 355, 23 P.3d 590].) For the charge of failure to register, it
is error to give an instruction on general criminal intent that informs the jury that a
person is “acting with general criminal intent, even though he may not know that
his act or conduct is unlawful.” (People v. Barker (2004) 34 Cal.4th 345, 360 [18
Cal.Rtpr.3d 260]; People v. Edgar (2002) 104 Cal.App.4th 210, 219 [127
Cal.Rptr.2d 662].) In such cases, the court should give CALCRIM No. 251, Union
of Act and Intent: Specific Intent or Mental State, instead of this instruction.
1 Witkin & Epstein, California Criminal Law (4th ed. 2012) Elements, §§ 1-5.
4 Millman, Sevilla & Tarlow, California Criminal Defense Practice, Ch. 85,
Submission to Jury and Verdict, § 85.03[e] (Matthew Bender).
6 Millman, Sevilla & Tarlow, California Criminal Defense Practice, Ch. 140,
CALCRIM No. 250 POST-TRIAL: INTRODUCTORY
Challenges to Crimes, § 140.02,  (Matthew Bender).
POST-TRIAL: INTRODUCTORY CALCRIM No. 250