California Criminal Jury Instructions (CALCRIM) (2017)

620. Causation: Special Issues

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H. CAUSATION: SPECIAL ISSUES
620.Causation: Special Issues
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.
<A. Negligence of Decedent or Third Party, Not Medical Personnel>
[The failure of <insert name of decedent> or another
person to use reasonable care may have contributed to the death. But if
the defendant’s act was a substantial factor causing the death, then the
defendant is legally responsible for the death even though
<insert name of decedent> or another person may have failed to use
reasonable care.]
<B. Negligence of Medical Personnel>
[The failure of the (doctor(s)/ [or] medical staff) to use reasonable care
in treating <insert name of decedent> may have contributed
to the death. But if the injury inflicted by the defendant was a
substantial factor causing the death, then the defendant is legally
responsible for the death even though the (doctor[s]/ [or] medical staff)
may have failed to use reasonable care. On the other hand, if the injury
inflicted by the defendant was not a substantial factor causing the death,
but the death was caused by grossly improper treatment by the
(doctor[s]/[or] medical staff), then the defendant is not legally
responsible for the death.]
<C. Vulnerable Victim—Injury Accelerating Death>
[<insert name of decedent> may have suffered from an
illness or physical condition that made (him/her) more likely to die from
the injury than the average person. The fact that <insert
name of decedent> may have been more physically vulnerable is not a
defense to (murder/ [or] manslaughter). If the defendant’s act was a
substantial factor causing the death, then the defendant is legally
responsible for the death. This is true even if <insert name
of decedent> would have died in a short time as a result of other causes
or if another person of average health would not have died as a result
of the defendant’s actions.]
If you have a reasonable doubt whether the defendant’s act caused the
death, you must find (him/her) not guilty.
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New January 2006
BENCH NOTES
Instructional Duty
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].)
AUTHORITY
• Negligence of Third Party. People v. Clark (1951) 106 Cal.App.2d 271,
277–278 [235 P.2d 56]; People v. Pike (1988) 197 Cal.App.3d 732, 746–747
[243 Cal.Rptr. 54].
• Negligence of Medical Staff. People v. McGee (1947) 31 Cal.2d 229,
240–241 [187 P.2d 706]; People v. Roberts (1992) 2 Cal.4th 271, 312 [6
Cal.Rptr.2d 276, 826 P.2d 274].
• Vulnerable Victim. People v. Catlin (2001) 26 Cal.4th 81, 155–157 [109
Cal.Rptr.2d 31, 26 P.3d 357]; People v. Phillips (1966) 64 Cal.2d 574, 579 [51
Cal.Rptr. 225, 414 P.2d 353], disapproved on other grounds in People v. Flood
(1998) 18 Cal.4th 470, 490, fn. 12 [76 Cal.Rptr.2d 180, 957 P.2d 869]; People
v. Stamp (1969) 2 Cal.App.3d 203, 209 [82 Cal.Rptr. 598].
Secondary Sources
1 Witkin & Epstein, California Criminal Law (3d ed. 2000) Elements, §§ 37, 38,
43.
6Millman, Sevilla & Tarlow, California Criminal Defense Practice, Ch. 140,
Challenges to Crimes, § 140.04; Ch. 142, Crimes Against the Person,
§§ 142.01[1][c], 142.02[1][c] (Matthew Bender).
621–624. Reserved for Future Use
CALCRIM No. 620 HOMICIDE
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