2860.Defense: Good Faith Belief Conduct Legal
The defendant did not voluntarily and intentionally violate a legal duty
known to (him/her) if (he/she) had a good faith but mistaken
understanding of what (his/her) duty was under the law. This is so even
if the mistaken understanding was due to (his/her) own negligence. If
the defendant actually believed that (he/she) was meeting the
requirements of the tax laws, (his/her) belief did not have to be
[A person’s (opinion that the tax laws violate his or her constitutional
rights/ [or] disagreement with the government’s tax collection system)
does not constitute a good faith misunderstanding of the law.]
The People have the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that
the defendant did not act in good faith. If the People have not met this
burden, you must ﬁnd the defendant not guilty of the crime[s] charged
[in Count[s] ] [or the lesser offense[s] of <insert
description of lesser offense[s]>].
New January 2006
The defendant may assert as a defense a good faith belief that his or her conduct
was legal. (People v. Hagen (1998) 19 Cal.4th 652, 660 [80 Cal.Rptr.2d 24, 967
P.2d 563]; Cheek v. United States (1991) 498 U.S. 192, 201 [111 S.Ct. 604, 112
L.Ed.2d 617].) This includes asserting that the defendant was ignorant of the law or
mistaken in his or her interpretation of it. (People v. Hagen, supra, 19 Cal.4th at p.
660; Cheek v. United States, supra, 498 U.S. at p. 201.) Further, the defendant’s
belief need not be objectively reasonable. (People v. Hagen, supra, 19 Cal.4th at p.
660; Cheek v. United States, supra, 498 U.S. at p. 201.) If there is sufficient
evidence to raise a reasonable doubt about a good faith belief, the court has a sua
sponte duty to give this instruction.
The good faith belief defense does not apply to a “tax protestor,” who asserts that
the tax law is illegal or unconstitutional. (Cheek v. United States (1991) 498 U.S.
192, 206 [111 S.Ct. 604, 112 L.Ed.2d 617]; United States v. Bressler (7th Cir.
1985) 772 F.2d 287, 291.) On the other hand, “[w]e must remind ourselves here
that the good-faith defense need not be rational, if there is sufficient evidence from
which a reasonable jury could conclude that even irrational beliefs were truly
held.” (United States v. Mann (10th Cir. 1989) 884 F.2d 532, 536–537 [reversing