2140. Failure to Perform Duty Following Accident: Death or Injury - Defendant Driver
The defendant is charged [in Count ______] with failing to perform a legal duty following a vehicle accident that caused (death/ [or] [permanent] injury) to another person.
To prove that the defendant is guilty of this crime, the People must prove that:
1. While driving, the defendant was involved in a vehicle accident;
2. The accident caused (the death of/ [or] [permanent, serious] injury to) someone else;
3. The defendant knew that (he/she) had been involved in an accident that injured another person [or knew from the nature of the accident that it was probable that another person had been injured];
4. The defendant willfully failed to perform one or more of the following duties:
(a) To stop immediately at the scene of the accident;
(b) When requested, to show (his/her) driver's license, or any other available identification, to (the person struck/the driver or occupants of any vehicle collided with) or any peace officer at the scene of the accident;
(c) To provide reasonable assistance to any person injured in the accident;
(d) To give to (the person struck/the driver or occupants of any vehicle collided with) or any peace officer at the scene of the accident all of the following information:
The defendant's name and current residence address;
The registration number of the vehicle (he/she) was driving(;/.)
<Give following sentence if defendant not owner of vehicle.>
The name and current residence address of the owner of the vehicle if the defendant is not the owner(;/.)]
<Give following sentence if occupants of defendant's vehicle were injured.>
The names and current residence addresses of any occupants of the defendant's vehicle who were injured in the accident(;/.)]
<Give element 4(e) if accident caused death.>
(e) The driver must, without unnecessary delay, notify either the police department of the city where the accident happened or the local headquarters of the California Highway Patrol if the accident happened in an unincorporated area.]
Someone commits an act willfully when he or she does it willingly or on purpose. It is not required that he or she intend to break the law, hurt someone else, or gain any advantage.
The duty to stop immediately means that the driver must stop his or her vehicle as soon as reasonably possible under the circumstances.
To provide reasonable assistance means the driver must determine what assistance, if any, the injured person needs and make a reasonable effort to see that such assistance is provided, either by the driver or someone else. Reasonable assistance includes transporting anyone who has been injured for medical treatment, or arranging the transportation for such treatment, if it is apparent that treatment is necessary or if an injured person requests transportation. [The driver is not required to provide assistance that is unnecessary or that is already being provided by someone else. However, the requirement that the driver provide assistance is not excused merely because bystanders are on the scene or could provide assistance.]
The driver of a vehicle must perform the duties listed regardless of who was injured and regardless of how or why the accident happened. It does not matter if someone else caused the accident or if the accident was unavoidable.
You may not find the defendant guilty unless all of you agree that the People have proved that the defendant failed to perform at least one of the required duties. You must all agree on which duty the defendant failed to perform.
[To be involved in a vehicle accident means to be connected with the accident in a natural or logical manner. It is not necessary for the driver's vehicle to collide with another vehicle or person.]
[When providing his or her name and address, the driver is required to identify himself or herself as the driver of a vehicle involved in the accident.]
[A permanent, serious injury is one that permanently impairs the function or causes the loss of any organ or body part.]
[An accident causes (death/ [or] [permanent, serious] injury) if the (death/ [or] injury) is the direct, natural, and probable consequence of the accident and the (death/ [or] injury) would not have happened without the accident. A natural and probable consequence is one that a reasonable person would know is likely to happen if nothing unusual intervenes. In deciding whether a consequence is natural and probable, consider all the circumstances established by the evidence.]
[There may be more than one cause of (death/ [or] [permanent, serious] injury). An accident causes (death/ [or] injury) only if it is a substantial factor in causing the (death/ [or] injury). A substantial factor is more than a trivial or remote factor. However, it need not be the only factor that causes the (death/ [or] injury).]
[If the accident caused the defendant to be unconscious or disabled so that (he/she) was not capable of performing the duties required by law, then (he/she) did not have to perform those duties at that time. [However, (he/she) was required to do so as soon as reasonably possible.]]
The court has a sua sponte duty to give this instruction defining the elements of the crime. Give this instruction if the prosecution alleges that the defendant drove the vehicle. If the prosecution alleges that the defendant was a nondriving owner present in the vehicle or other passenger in control of the vehicle, give CALCRIM No. 2141, Failure to Perform Duty Following Accident: Death or Injury—Defendant Nondriving Owner or Passenger in Control
If causation is at issue, the court has a sua sponte duty to instruct on proximate cause. (People v. Bernhardt (1963) 222 Cal.App.2d 567, 590- 591 [35 Cal.Rptr. 401].) If the evidence indicates that there was only one cause of death or injury, the court should give the "direct, natural, and probable" language in the first bracketed paragraph on causation. If there is evidence of multiple causes of death or injury, the court should also give the "substantial factor" instruction in the second bracketed paragraph on causation. (See People v. Autry (1995) 37 Cal.App.4th 351, 363 [43 Cal.Rptr.2d 135]; People v. Pike (1988) 197 Cal.App.3d 732, 746-747 [243 Cal.Rptr. 54].)
If the defendant is charged under Vehicle Code section 20001(b)(1) with leaving the scene of an accident causing injury, but not death or permanent, serious injury, delete the words "death" and "permanent, serious" from the instruction. If the defendant is charged under Vehicle Code section 20001(b)(2) with leaving the scene of an accident causing death or permanent, serious injury, use either or both of these options throughout the instruction, depending on the facts of the case. When instructing on both offenses, give this instruction using the words "death" and/or "permanent, serious injury," and give CALCRIM No. 2142, Failure to Perform Duty Following Accident: Lesser Included Offense.
Give bracketed element 4(e) only if the accident caused a death.
Give the bracketed portion that begins with "The driver is not required to provide assistance" if there is an issue over whether assistance by the defendant to the injured person was necessary in light of aid provided by others. (See People v. Scheer (1998) 68 Cal.App.4th 1009, 1027 [80 Cal.Rptr.2d 676]; People v. Scofield (1928) 203 Cal. 703, 708 [265 P. 914]; see also discussion in the Related Issues section below.)
Give the bracketed paragraph defining "involved in a vehicle accident" if that is an issue in the case.
Give the bracketed paragraph stating that "the driver is required to identify himself or herself as the driver" if there is evidence that the defendant stopped and identified himself or herself but not in a way that made it apparent to the other parties that the defendant was the driver. (People v. Kroncke (1999) 70 Cal.App.4th 1535, 1546 [83 Cal.Rptr.2d 493].)
Give the bracketed paragraph that begins with "If the accident caused the defendant to be unconscious" if there is sufficient evidence that the defendant was unconscious or disabled at the scene of the accident.
On request, give CALCRIM No. 2241, Driver and Driving Defined.
Elements. Veh. Code, §§ 20001, 20003 & 20004.
Sentence for Death or Permanent Injury. Veh. Code, § 20001(b)(2).
Sentence for Injury. Veh. Code, § 20001(b)(1).
Knowledge of Accident and Injury. People v. Holford (1965) 63 Cal.2d 74, 79-80 [45 Cal.Rptr. 167, 403 P.2d 423]; People v. Carter (1966) 243 Cal.App.2d 239, 241 [52 Cal.Rptr. 207]; People v. Hamilton (1978) 80 Cal.App.3d 124, 133-134 [145 Cal.Rptr. 429].
Willful Failure to Perform Duty. People v. Crouch (1980) 108 Cal.App.3d Supp. 14, 21-22 [166 Cal.Rptr. 818].
Duty Applies Regardless of Fault for Accident. People v. Scofield (1928) 203 Cal. 703, 708 [265 P. 914].
Involved Defined. People v. Bammes (1968) 265 Cal.App.2d 626, 631 [71 Cal.Rptr. 415]; People v. Sell (1950) 96 Cal.App.2d 521, 523 [215 P.2d 771].
Immediately Stopped Defined. People v. Odom (1937) 19 Cal.App.2d 641, 646-647 [66 P.2d 206].
Duty to Render Assistance. People v. Scofield (1928) 203 Cal. 703, 708 [265 P. 914]; People v. Scheer (1998) 68 Cal.App.4th 1009, 1027 [80 Cal.Rptr.2d 676].
Permanent, Serious Injury Defined. Veh. Code, § 20001(d).
Statute Does Not Violate Fifth Amendment Privilege. California v. Byers (1971) 402 U.S. 424, 434 [91 S.Ct. 1535, 29 L.Ed.2d 9].
Must Identify Self as Driver. People v. Kroncke (1999) 70 Cal.App.4th 1535, 1546 [83 Cal.Rptr.2d 493].
Unanimity Instruction Required. People v. Scofield (1928) 203 Cal. 703, 710 [265 P. 914].
Unconscious Driver Unable to Comply at Scene. People v. Flores (1996) 51 Cal.App.4th 1199, 1204 [59 Cal.Rptr.2d 637].
Offense May Occur on Private Property. People v. Stansberry (1966) 242 Cal.App.2d 199, 204 [51 Cal.Rptr. 403].
Duty Applies to Injured Passenger in Defendant's Vehicle. People v. Kroncke (1999) 70 Cal.App.4th 1535, 1546 [83 Cal.Rptr.2d 493].
2 Witkin & Epstein, California Criminal Law (3d ed. 2000) Crimes Against Public Peace and Welfare, §§ 246-252.
5 Millman, Sevilla & Tarlow, California Criminal Defense Practice, Ch. 91, Sentencing, §§ 91.60[b][ii], 91.81[d] (Matthew Bender).
6 Millman, Sevilla & Tarlow, California Criminal Defense Practice, Ch. 140, Challenges to Crimes, § 140.03, Ch. 145, Narcotics and Alcohol Offenses, § 145.02[3A][a] (Matthew Bender).
Lesser Included Offenses
Failure to Stop Following Accident—Injury. Veh. Code, § 20001(b)(1).
Misdemeanor Failure to Stop Following Accident—Property Damage. Veh. Code, § 20002; People v. Carter (1966) 243 Cal.App.2d 239, 242-243 [52 Cal.Rptr. 207].
Constructive Knowledge of Injury
"[K]nowledge may be imputed to the driver of a vehicle where the fact of personal injury is visible and obvious or where the seriousness of the collision would lead a reasonable person to assume there must have been resulting injuries." (People v. Carter (1966) 243 Cal.App.2d 239, 241 [52 Cal.Rptr. 207] [citations omitted].)
Failure to render reasonable assistance to an injured person constitutes a violation of the statute. (People v. Limon (1967) 252 Cal.App.2d 575, 578 [60 Cal.Rptr. 448].) "In this connection it must be noted that the statute requires that necessary assistance be rendered." (People v. Scofield (1928) 203 Cal. 703, 708 [265 P. 914] [emphasis in original].) In People v. Scofield, supra, the court held that where other people were caring for the injured person, the defendant's "assistance was not necessary." (Id. at p. 709 [emphasis in original].) An instruction limited to the statutory language on rendering assistance "is inappropriate where such assistance by the driver is unnecessary, as in the case where paramedics have responded within moments following the accident." (People v. Scheer (1998) 68 Cal.App.4th 1009, 1027 [80 Cal.Rptr.2d 676].) However, "the driver's duty to render necessary assistance under Vehicle Code section 20003, at a minimum, requires that the driver first ascertain what assistance, if any, the injured person needs, and then the driver must make a reasonable effort to see that such assistance is provided, whether through himself or third parties." (Ibid.) The presence of bystanders who offer assistance is not alone sufficient to relieve the defendant of the duty to render aid. (Ibid.) "[T]he 'reasonable assistance' referred to in the statute might be the summoning of aid," rather than the direct provision of first aid by the defendant. (People v. Limon (1967) 252 Cal.App.2d 575, 578 [60 Cal.Rptr. 448].)
(New January 2006)