CALCRIM No. 253. Union of Act and Intent: Criminal Negligence

Judicial Council of California Criminal Jury Instructions (2023 edition)

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253.Union of Act and Intent: Criminal Negligence
For you to find a person guilty of the crime[s] of <insert
name[s] of alleged offense[s]> [or to find the allegation[s] of
<insert name[s] of enhancement[s]> true], a person must do an act [or
fail to do an act] with (criminal/gross/ordinary) negligence.
[(Criminal/Gross/Ordinary) negligence is defined in the instructions on
that crime.]
[(Criminal/Gross) negligence involves more than ordinary carelessness,
inattention, or mistake in judgment. A person acts with (criminal/gross)
negligence when:
1. He or she acts in a reckless way that creates a high risk of death
or great bodily injury;
1. AND
2. A reasonable person would have known that acting in that way
would create such a risk.
In other words, a person acts with (criminal/gross) negligence when the
way he or she acts is so different from the way an ordinarily careful
person would act in the same situation that his or her act amounts to
disregard for human life or indifference to the consequences of that act.]
[Ordinary negligence is the failure to use reasonable care to prevent
reasonably foreseeable harm to oneself or someone else. A person is
negligent if he or she (does something that a reasonably careful person
would not do in the same situation/ [or] fails to do something that a
reasonably careful person would do in the same situation).]
New January 2006; Revised June 2007, March 2022
Instructional Duty
This instruction is provided for the court to use when instructing on an offense for
which criminal, gross, or ordinary negligence is an element. Do not give this
instruction if only general or specific-intent offenses are presented to the jury.
(People v. Lara (1996) 44 Cal.App.4th 102, 110 [51 Cal.Rptr.2d 402].) Although no
case has held that the court has a sua sponte duty to give this instruction, the
committee recommends that the instruction be given, if applicable, as a matter of
The court must specify for the jury which offenses require criminal negligence by
inserting the names of the offenses where indicated in the instruction. (See People v.
Hill (1967) 67 Cal.2d 105, 118 [60 Cal.Rptr. 234, 429 P.2d 586].)
The court should select “criminal,” “gross” or “ordinary” based on the words used
in the instruction on the elements of the underlying offense. (See People v. Nicolas
(2017) 8 Cal.App.5th 1165, 1175-1176 [214 Cal.Rptr.3d 467].)
Give the bracketed definition of criminal, gross, or ordinary negligence unless the
court has already given the definition in another instruction. In such cases, the court
may give the bracketed sentence stating that the term is defined elsewhere.
Statutory Authority. Pen. Code, § 20; see also Evid. Code, §§ 665, 668.
Criminal or Gross Negligence Defined. People v. Penny (1955) 44 Cal.2d 861,
879 [285 P.2d 926]; People v. Rodriguez (1960) 186 Cal.App.2d 433, 440 [8
Cal.Rptr. 863].
Ordinary Negligence Defined. Pen. Code, § 7, subd. 2; People v. Nicolas (2017)
8 Cal.App.5th 1165, 1174-1175 [214 Cal.Rptr.3d 467].
1 Witkin & Epstein, California Criminal Law (4th ed. 2012) Elements, § 21.
6 Millman, Sevilla & Tarlow, California Criminal Defense Practice, Ch. 140,
Challenges to Crimes, § 140.02[1], [4] (Matthew Bender).

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