CALCRIM No. 506. Justifiable Homicide: Defending Against Harm to Person Within Home or on Property
Judicial Council of California Criminal Jury Instructions (2017 edition)Download PDF
506.Justiﬁable Homicide: Defending Against Harm to Person
Within Home or on Property
The defendant is not guilty of (murder/ [or] manslaughter/ attempted
murder/ [or] attempted voluntary manslaughter) if (he/she)
(killed/attempted to kill) to defend (himself/herself) [or any other
person] in the defendant’s home. Such (a/an) [attempted] killing is
justiﬁed, and therefore not unlawful, if:
1. The defendant reasonably believed that (he/she) was defending a
home against <insert name of decedent>, who
(intended to or tried to commit ___________ <insert forcible and
atrocious crime>/ [or] violently[[,] [or] riotously[,]/ [or]
tumultuously] tried to enter that home intending to commit an
act of violence against someone inside);
2. The defendant reasonably believed that the danger was
3. The defendant reasonably believed that the use of deadly force
was necessary to defend against the danger;
4. The defendant used no more force than was reasonably
necessary to defend against the danger.
Belief in future harm is not sufficient, no matter how great or how
likely the harm is believed to be. The defendant must have believed
there was imminent danger of violence to (himself/herself/ [or] someone
else). Defendant’s belief must have been reasonable and (he/she) must
have acted only because of that belief. The defendant is only entitled to
use that amount of force that a reasonable person would believe is
necessary in the same situation. If the defendant used more force than
was reasonable, then the [attempted] killing was not justiﬁed.
When deciding whether the defendant’s beliefs were reasonable,
consider all the circumstances as they were known to and appeared to
the defendant and consider what a reasonable person in a similar
situation with similar knowledge would have believed. If the defendant’s
beliefs were reasonable, the danger does not need to have actually
[A defendant is not required to retreat. He or she is entitled to stand his
or her ground and defend himself or herself and, if reasonably
necessary, to pursue an assailant until the danger of (death/bodily
injury/ <insert forcible and atrocious crime>) has passed.
This is so even if safety could have been achieved by retreating.]
The People have the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that
the [attempted] killing was not justiﬁed. If the People have not met this
burden, you must ﬁnd the defendant not guilty of [attempted] (murder/
New January 2006
The court has a sua sponte duty to give defense instructions supported by
substantial evidence and not inconsistent with the defendant’s theory of the case.
(See People v. Baker (1999) 74 Cal.App.4th 243, 252 [87 Cal.Rptr.2d 803]; People
v. Barton (1995) 12 Cal.4th 186, 195 [47 Cal.Rtpr.2d 569, 906 P.2d 531]; People v.
Slater (1943) 60 Cal.App.2d 358, 367–368 [140 P.2d 846] [error to refuse
instruction based on Pen. Code, § 197, subd. 2 when substantial evidence supported
inference that victim intended to enter the habitation].)
Penal Code section 197, subdivision 2 provides that “defense of habitation” may be
used to resist someone who “intends or endeavors, by violence or surprise, to
commit a felony . . . .” (Pen. Code, § 197, subd. 2.) However, in People v.
Ceballos (1974) 12 Cal.3d 470, 477–479 [116 Cal.Rptr. 233, 526 P.2d 241], the
court held that the felony feared must be “some atrocious crime attempted to be
committed by force.” (Id. at p. 478.) Forcible and atrocious crimes are those crimes
whose character and manner reasonably create a fear of death or serious bodily
harm. (People v. Ceballos, supra, 12 Cal.3d at p. 479.) The following crimes have
been deemed forcible and atrocious as a matter of law: murder, mayhem, rape, and
robbery. (Id. at p. 478.) Ceballos speciﬁcally held that burglaries which “do not
reasonably create a fear of great bodily harm” are not sufficient “cause for exaction
of human life.” (Id. at p. 479.) Thus, although the statute refers to “defense of
habitation,” Ceballos requires that a person be at risk of great bodily harm or an
atrocious felony in order to justify homicide. (Ibid.)The instruction has been
If the defendant is asserting that he or she was resisting the commission of a
forcible and atrocious crime, give the ﬁrst option in element 1 and insert the name
of the crime. If there is substantial evidence that the defendant was resisting a
violent entry into a residence for the general purpose of committing violence
against someone inside, give the second option in element 1. (See Pen. Code,
§ 197, subd. 2.) The court may give the bracketed words “riotously” and
“tumultuously” at its discretion.
CALCRIM No. 3477, Presumption That Resident Was Reasonably Afraid of Death
or Great Bodily Injury.
CALCRIM No. 506 HOMICIDE
• Instructional Requirements. Pen. Code, § 197, subd. 2.
• Actual and Reasonable Fear. See Pen. Code, § 198; see People v. Curtis
(1994) 30 Cal.App.4th 1337, 1361 [37 Cal.Rptr.2d 304].
• Burden of Proof. Pen. Code, § 189.5.
• Fear of Imminent Harm. People v. Humphrey (1996) 13 Cal.4th 1073, 1082
[56 Cal.Rtpr.2d 146, 921 P.2d 1]; People v. Lucas (1958) 160 Cal.App.2d 305,
310 [324 P.2d 933].
• Forcible and Atrocious Crimes. People v. Ceballos (1974) 12 Cal.3d 470,
478–479 [116 Cal.Rptr. 233, 526 P.2d 241].
• No Duty to Retreat. People v. Hughes (1951) 107 Cal.App.2d 487, 493 [237
P.2d 64]; People v. Hatchett (1942) 56 Cal.App.2d 20, 22 [132 P.2d 51].
1 Witkin & Epstein, California Criminal Law (3d ed. 2000) Defenses, § 78.
3Millman, Sevilla & Tarlow, California Criminal Defense Practice, Ch. 73,
Defenses and Justiﬁcations, § 73.13 (Matthew Bender).
4 Millman, Sevilla & Tarlow, California Criminal Defense Practice, Ch. 85,
Submission to Jury and Verdict, § 85.04[c] (Matthew Bender).
6 Millman, Sevilla & Tarlow, California Criminal Defense Practice, Ch. 142,
Crimes Against the Person, § 142.01[b] (Matthew Bender).
HOMICIDE CALCRIM No. 506
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