California Criminal Jury Instructions (CALCRIM) (2017)
700. Special Circumstances: IntroductionDownload PDF
K. SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES
(i) General Instructions
700.Special Circumstances: Introduction (Pen. Code, § 190.2)
If you ﬁnd (the/a) defendant guilty of ﬁrst degree murder, you must also
decide whether the People have proved that [one or more of] the special
circumstance[s] is true.
The People have the burden of proving (the/each) special circumstance
beyond a reasonable doubt. If the People have not met this burden, you
must ﬁnd the special circumstance has not been proved. [You must
return a verdict form stating true or not true for each special
circumstance on which you all agree.]
In order for you to return a ﬁnding that a special circumstance is or is
not true, all 12 of you must agree.
[You must (consider each special circumstance separately/ [and you
must] consider each special circumstance separately for each
New January 2006
The court has a sua sponte duty to instruct the jury on the special circumstances
and to instruct that, in the case of a reasonable doubt, the jury must ﬁnd the special
circumstance not true. (Pen. Code, § 190.4; see People v. Frierson (1979) 25
Cal.3d 142, 180 [158 Cal.Rptr. 281, 599 P.2d 587]; People v. Ochoa (1998) 19
Cal.4th 353, 420 [79 Cal.Rptr.2d 408, 966 P.2d 442].)
The court has a sua sponte duty to instruct the jury to consider each special
circumstance separately. (See People v. Holt (1997) 15 Cal.4th 619, 681 [63
Cal.Rptr.2d 782, 937 P.2d 213].) Give the bracketed paragraph if more than one
special circumstance is charged or there are multiple defendants.
Where multiple special circumstances are charged, the court may accept a partial
verdict if the jury is unable to unanimously agree on all of the special
circumstances. (Pen. Code, § 190.4.)
• Reasonable Doubt. Pen. Code, § 190.4; People v. Frierson (1979) 25 Cal.3d
142, 180 [158 Cal.Rptr. 281, 599 P.2d 587]; People v. Ochoa (1998) 19 Cal.4th
353, 420 [79 Cal.Rptr.2d 408, 966 P.2d 442].
• Partial Verdict. Pen. Code, § 190.4.
• Consider Each Special Circumstance Separately. People v. Holt (1997) 15
Cal.4th 619, 681 [63 Cal.Rptr.2d 782, 937 P.2d 213].
3 Witkin & Epstein, California Criminal Law (3d ed. 2000), Punishment, § 461.
4Millman, Sevilla & Tarlow, California Criminal Defense Practice, Ch. 87, Death
Penalty, §§ 87.02, 87.10–87.15, 87.24 (Matthew Bender).
6 Millman, Sevilla & Tarlow, California Criminal Defense Practice, Ch. 142,
Crimes Against the Person, § 142.01[a] (Matthew Bender).
Right to Jury Trial on Special Circumstances
Unless speciﬁcally waived, the defendant has a right to jury trial on the special
circumstance allegations even if the defendant pleaded guilty to the underlying
charges. (People v. Granger (1980) 105 Cal.App.3d 422, 428 [164 Cal.Rptr. 363].)
Prior Conviction for Murder Requires Bifurcated Trial
If the defendant is charged with the special circumstance of a prior conviction for
murder, under Penal Code section 190.2(a)(2), the court must bifurcate the trial.
(Pen. Code, § 190.1.) The jury should ﬁrst determine whether the defendant is
guilty of ﬁrst degree murder and whether any other special circumstances charged
are true. (Ibid.) The prior conviction special circumstance should then be submitted
to the jury in a separate proceeding. (Ibid.)
All Special Circumstances Constitutional Except Heinous or Atrocious Murder
The special circumstance for a heinous, atrocious, or cruel murder (Pen. Code,
§ 190.2(a)(14)) has been held to be unconstitutionally vague. (People v. Superior
Court (Engert) (1982) 31 Cal.3d 797, 803 [183 Cal.Rptr. 800, 647 P.2d 76]; People
v. Sanders (1990) 51 Cal.3d 471, 520 [273 Cal.Rptr. 537, 797 P.2d 561].) No other
special circumstance has been found unconstitutional.
CALCRIM No. 700 HOMICIDE