CALCRIM No. 351. Cross-Examination of Character Witness

Judicial Council of California Criminal Jury Instructions (2023 edition)

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351.Cross-Examination of Character Witness
The attorney for the People was allowed to ask defendant’s character
witness[es] if (he/she/they) had heard that the defendant had engaged in
certain conduct. These “have you heard” questions and their answers are
not evidence that the defendant engaged in any such conduct. You may
consider these questions and answers only to evaluate the meaning and
importance of (the/a) character witness’s testimony.
New January 2006
Instructional Duty
The court has no sua sponte duty to give an instruction on cross-examination of
character witnesses; however it must be given on request. (People v. Hempstead
(1983) 148 Cal.App.3d 949, 954 [196 Cal.Rptr. 412] [when cross-examination of
character witness is permitted, a limiting admonition should be given]; Evid. Code,
§ 355.)
Instructional Requirements. People v. Hempstead (1983) 148 Cal.App.3d 949,
954 [196 Cal.Rptr. 412]; People v. Eli (1967) 66 Cal.2d 63, 79 [56 Cal.Rptr.
916, 424 P.2d 356].
3 Witkin, California Evidence (5th ed. 2012) Presentation at Trial, § 255.
4 Millman, Sevilla & Tarlow, California Criminal Defense Practice, Ch. 82,
Witnesses, § 82.22[3][d], Ch. 85, Submission to Jury and Verdict, § 85.02[2][b], Ch.
87, Death Penalty, § 87.23[5] (Matthew Bender).

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