Criminal Law

301. Single Witness's Testimony

[Except for the testimony of <insert witness's name>, which requires supporting evidence,] (the/The) testimony of only one witness can prove any fact. Before you conclude that the testimony of one witness proves a fact, you should carefully review all the evidence.

Bench Notes

Instructional Duty

The court has a sua sponte duty to give an instruction on this issue in every case. (People v. Rincon-Pineda (1975) 14 Cal.3d 864, 884-885 [123 Cal.Rptr. 119, 538 P.2d 247].) Insert the bracketed language if the testimony of an accomplice or other witness requires corroboration. (People v. Chavez (1985) 39 Cal.3d 823, 831-832 [218 Cal.Rptr. 49, 705 P.2d 372].)

The following constitutional provisions and statutes require evidence that corroborates a witness's testimony: Cal. Const., art. I, § 20 [treason]; Pen. Code, §§ 1111 [accomplice testimony]; 653f [solicitation of a felony]; 118 [perjury]; 1108 [abortion and seduction of a minor]; 532 [obtaining property by false pretenses].


Instructional Requirements. Evid. Code, § 411; People v. Rincon-Pineda (1975) 14 Cal.3d 864, 885 [123 Cal.Rptr. 119, 538 P.2d 247].

Corroboration Required. People v. Chavez (1985) 39 Cal.3d 823, 831- 832 [218 Cal.Rptr. 49, 705 P.2d 372].

Secondary Sources

3 Witkin, California Evidence (4th ed. 2000) Presentation, § 111.

4 Millman, Sevilla & Tarlow, California Criminal Defense Practice, Ch. 85, Submission to Jury and Verdict, § 85.03[2][b] (Matthew Bender).

Related Issues

Uncorroborated Testimony of Defendant

The cautionary admonition regarding a single witness's testimony applies with equal force to uncorroborated testimony by a defendant. (People v. Turner (1990) 50 Cal.3d 668, 696, fn. 14 [268 Cal.Rptr. 706, 789 P.2d 887].)

Uncorroborated Testimony in Sex Offense Cases

In a prosecution for forcible rape, an instruction that the testimony of a single witness is sufficient may be given in conjunction with an instruction that there is no legal corroboration requirement in a sex offense case. Both instructions correctly state the law and because each focuses on a different legal point, there is no implication that the victim's testimony is more credible than the defendant's testimony. (People v. Gammage (1992) 2 Cal.4th 693, 700-702 [7 Cal.Rptr.2d 541, 828 P.2d 682] [resolving split of authority on whether the two instructions can be given together].)

(New January 2006)