California Criminal Jury Instructions (CALCRIM) (2017)

500. Homicide: General Principles

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500.Homicide: General Principles
Homicide is the killing of one human being by another. (Murder/ [and]
(Manslaughter/manslaughter)) (is/are) [a] type[s] of homicide. The
defendant is charged with (murder/ [and] manslaughter). [Manslaughter
is a lesser offense to murder.]
[A homicide can be lawful or unlawful. If a person kills with a legally
valid excuse or justification, the killing is lawful and he or she has not
committed a crime. If there is no legally valid excuse or justification, the
killing is unlawful and, depending on the circumstances, the person is
guilty of either murder or manslaughter. You must decide whether the
killing in this case was unlawful and, if so, what specific crime was
committed. I will now instruct you in more detail on what is a legally
permissible excuse or justification for homicide.] [I will [also] instruct
you on the different types of (murder/ [and] manslaughter).]
New January 2006
Instructional Duty
This instruction should be given if there are multiple theories of homicide or
evidence supporting justification or excuse, as a way of introducing the jury to the
law of homicide.
If no homicide defense instructions are given, do not give the bracketed language
in the second paragraph beginning “A homicide can be lawful . . . .” If no
instructions will be given on offenses other than first degree murder, do not give
the last bracketed sentence.
• Homicide Defined. People v. Antick (1975) 15 Cal.3d 79, 87 [123 Cal.Rptr.
475, 539 P.2d 43].
• Justification or Excuse. Pen. Code, § 189.5; People v. Frye (1992) 7
Cal.App.4th 1148, 1154–1155 [10 Cal.Rptr.2d 217], disapproved on other
grounds in People v. McCoy (2001) 25 Cal.4th 1111, 1123 [108 Cal.Rptr.2d
188, 24 P.3d 1210].
• This Instruction Upheld. People v. Genovese (2008) 168 Cal.App.4th 817, 832
[85 Cal.Rptr.3d 664].
Secondary Sources
1 Witkin & Epstein, California Criminal Law (3d ed. 2000) Crimes Against the
Person, § 91.
6 Millman, Sevilla & Tarlow, California Criminal Defense Practice, Ch. 142,
Crimes Against the Person, §§ 142.01, 142.02 (Matthew Bender).
The committee decided that a short introduction on the law of homicide would help
the jury understand basic principles governing a complicated body of law. By
giving the jury a simple framework, this instruction will help the jurors understand
the rest of the instructions. Although “homicide” is a classic legal term, the
committee decided to use the word because it appears to now be a part of lay
vocabulary and therefore easily recognizable by jurors.
501–504. Reserved for Future Use