CALCRIM No. 506. Justifiable Homicide: Defending Against Harm to Person Within Home or on Property
Judicial Council of California Criminal Jury Instructions (2023 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 imminent;
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 existed.
[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; Revised September 2022
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. (Id.)
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.” (Ibid.)
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 drafted accordingly.
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
CALCRIM No. 3477, Presumption That Resident Was Reasonably Afraid of Death
or Great Bodily Injury.
• 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
CALCRIM No. 506 HOMICIDE
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, supra, 12 Cal.3d at pp.
478-479; People v. Morales (2021) 69 Cal.App.5th 978, 992-993 [284
• 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 (4th ed. 2012) Defenses, § 88.
3 Millman, 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