Criminal Law

594. Vehicular Manslaughter: Collision for Financial Gain

The defendant is charged [in Count ______] with vehicular manslaughter by causing a collision for financial gain.

To prove that the defendant is guilty of this crime, the People must prove that:

1. While driving a vehicle, the defendant knowingly caused or participated in a vehicular collision;

2. When the defendant acted, (he/she) knew that the purpose of the vehicular collision was to make a false or fraudulent insurance claim for financial gain;

3. When the defendant acted, (he/she) did so with intent to defraud;


4. The collision caused the death of another person.

A person intends to defraud if he or she intends to deceive another person in order to cause a loss of, or damage to, a legal, financial, or property right.

[For the purpose of this instruction, a person includes (a governmental agency/a corporation/a business/an association/the body politic).]

[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.]

Bench Notes

Instructional Duty

The court has a sua sponte duty to give this instruction defining the elements of the crime.

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].)

Give the bracketed sentence that begins with "For the purpose of this instruction" if the evidence shows an intent to defraud an entity or association rather than a natural person. (Pen. Code, § 8.)

Related Instructions

CALCRIM No. 2002, Insurance Fraud: Vehicle Accident.


Elements. Pen. Code, § 192(c)(4).

Causation. People v. Rodriguez (1960) 186 Cal.App.2d 433, 440 [8 Cal.Rptr. 863].

Intent to Defraud—Defined. People v. Pugh (2002) 104 Cal.App.4th 66, 72 [127 Cal.Rptr.2d 770]; People v. Guy-Alexander (1995) 32 Cal.App.4th 735, 745 [38 Cal.Rptr.2d 176].

Intent to Defraud Entity. Pen. Code, § 8.

Secondary Sources

1 Witkin & Epstein, California Criminal Law (3d ed. 2000) Crimes Against the Person, § 236.

2 Witkin & Epstein, California Criminal Law (3d ed. 2000) Crimes Against Property, § 185.

6 Millman, Sevilla & Tarlow, California Criminal Defense Practice, Ch. 140, Challenges to Crimes, § 140.04, Ch. 142, Crimes Against the Person, § 142.02[2][c], [4] (Matthew Bender).

Related Issues

Does Not Preclude Murder Charge

Section 192(c)(4) of the Penal Code states that: "This provision shall not be construed to prevent prosecution of a defendant for the crime of murder."

Probable and Natural Consequences of a Conspiracy

A nondriver coconspirator may be liable for a death that results from a conspiracy to commit a vehicular collision for insurance fraud under the natural and probable consequences doctrine. (People v. Superior Court (Shamis) (1998) 58 Cal.App.4th 833, 842-843 [68 Cal.Rptr.2d 388].)

(New January 2006)