572. Voluntary Manslaughter: Murder Not Charged
The defendant is charged [in Count ______] with voluntary manslaughter.
To prove that the defendant is guilty of voluntary manslaughter, the People must prove that:
1. The defendant committed an act that caused the death of another person;
2. When the defendant acted, (he/she) unlawfully intended to kill someone(;/.)
<Give element 3 when instructing on self-defense or defense of another>
3. (he/she) killed without lawful excuse or justification.]
Or the People must prove that:
1. The defendant intentionally committed an act that caused the death of another person;
2. The natural consequences of the act were dangerous to human life;
3. At the time (he/she) acted, (he/she) knew the act was dangerous to human life;
4. (he/she) deliberately acted with conscious disregard for human life(;/.)
<Give element 5 when instructing on self-defense or defense of another>
5. (he/she) killed without lawful excuse or justification.]
[An act causes death if the death is the direct, natural, and probable consequence of the act and the death would not have happened without the act. A natural and probable consequence is one that a reasonable person would know is likely to happen if nothing unusual intervenes. In deciding whether a consequence is natural and probable, consider all of the circumstances established by the evidence.]
[There may be more than one cause of death. An act causes death only if it is a substantial factor in causing the death. A substantial factor is more than a trivial or remote factor. However, it does not need to be the only factor that causes the death.]
The court has a sua sponte duty to give this instruction defining the elements of the crime. The court should give this instruction only in cases where voluntary manslaughter is charged alone, without murder. In such cases, [A] conviction of voluntary manslaughter may be sustained upon proof and findings that the defendant committed an unlawful and intentional homicide. Provocation and imperfect self-defense are not additional elements of voluntary manslaughter which must be proved and found beyond reasonable doubt in order to permit a conviction of that offense.
(People v. Rios (2000) 23 Cal.4th 450, 463, 469 [97 Cal.Rptr.2d 512, 2 P.3d 1066].) "[V]oluntary manslaughter . . . is also committed when one kills unlawfully, and with conscious disregard for life." (People v. Rios, supra, 23 Cal.4th at p. 461, fn. 7 [emphasis in original], citing People v. Blakeley (2000) 23 Cal.4th 82, 90-91 [96 Cal.Rptr.2d 451, 999 P.2d 675]; People v. Lasko (2000) 23 Cal.4th 101, 108-110 [96 Cal.Rptr.2d 441, 999 P.2d 666].)
If causation is at issue, the court has a sua sponte duty to instruct on proximate cause. (People v. Bernhardt (1963) 222 Cal.App.2d 567, 590- 591 [35 Cal.Rptr. 401].) If the evidence indicates that there was only one cause of death, the court should give the "direct, natural, and probable" language in the first bracketed paragraph on causation. If there is evidence of multiple causes of death, the court should also give the "substantial factor" instruction in the second bracketed paragraph on causation. (See
People v. Autry (1995) 37 Cal.App.4th 351, 363 [43 Cal.Rptr.2d 135]; People v. Pike (1988) 197 Cal.App.3d 732, 746-747 [243 Cal.Rptr. 54].) See also CALCRIM No. 620, Causation: Special Issues.
Elements. Pen. Code § 192(a); People v. Rios (2000) 23 Cal.4th 450, 463, 469 [97 Cal.Rptr.2d 512, 2 P.3d 1066].
1 Witkin & Epstein, California Criminal Law (3d ed. 2000) Crimes Against the Person, §§ 208-209.
6 Millman, Sevilla & Tarlow, California Criminal Defense Practice, Ch. 140, Challenges to Crimes, § 140.04, Ch. 142, Crimes Against the Person, § 142.02[a], [e], [f], [a] (Matthew Bender).
Blakeley Not Retroactive
The decision in Blakeley—that one who, acting with conscious disregard for life, unintentionally kills in imperfect self-defense is guilty of voluntary manslaughter—may not be applied to defendants whose offense occurred prior to Blakeley's June 2, 2000, date of decision. (People v. Blakeley (2000) 23 Cal.4th 82, 91-93 [96 Cal.Rptr.2d 451, 999 P.2d 675].) If a defendant asserts a killing was done in an honest but mistaken belief in the need to act in self-defense and the offense occurred prior to June 2, 2000, the jury must be instructed that an unintentional killing in imperfect self-defense is involuntary manslaughter. (People v. Johnson (2002) 98 Cal.App.4th 566, 576-577 [119 Cal.Rptr.2d 802]; People v. Blakeley, supra, 23 Cal.4th at p. 93.) In such cases, do not give the portion of the instruction that begins, "Or the People must prove that" or any of the elements that follow.
Manslaughter does not apply to the death of a fetus. (People v. Carlson (1974) 37 Cal.App.3d 349, 355 [112 Cal.Rptr. 321].) While the Legislature has included the killing of a fetus, as well as a human being, within the definition of murder under Penal Code section 187, it has "left untouched the provisions of section 192, defining manslaughter [as] the 'unlawful killing of a human being.' " (Ibid.)
(New January 2006)