California Criminal Jury Instructions (CALCRIM) (2017)

572. Voluntary Manslaughter: Murder Not Charged

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572.Voluntary Manslaughter: Murder Not Charged (Pen. Code,
§ 192(a))
The defendant is charged [in Count ] with voluntary
manslaughter [in violation of Penal Code section 192(a)].
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
<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
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
<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.]
New January 2006
Instructional Duty
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].
Secondary Sources
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[1][a], [e], [f], [2][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
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.)
573–579. Reserved for Future Use