California Criminal Jury Instructions (CALCRIM) (2017)

704. Special Circumstances: Circumstantial Evidence - Sufficiency

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704.Special Circumstances: Circumstantial
Evidence—Sufficiency
Before you may rely on circumstantial evidence to conclude that a
special circumstance allegation is true, you must be convinced that the
People have proved each fact essential to that conclusion beyond a
reasonable doubt.
Also, before you may rely on circumstantial evidence to find that a
special circumstance allegation is true, you must be convinced that the
only reasonable conclusion supported by the circumstantial evidence is
that the special circumstance allegation is true. If you can draw two or
more reasonable conclusions from the circumstantial evidence, and one
of those reasonable conclusions supports a finding that the special
circumstance allegation is true and another reasonable conclusion
supports a finding that it is not true, you must conclude that the
allegation was not proved by the circumstantial evidence. However,
when considering circumstantial evidence, you must accept only
reasonable conclusions and reject any that are unreasonable.
New January 2006
BENCH NOTES
Instructional Duty
The court has a sua sponte duty to instruct on how to evaluate circumstantial
evidence if the prosecution substantially relies on circumstantial evidence to
establish any element of the case. (People v. Yrigoyen (1955) 45 Cal.2d 46, 49 [286
P.2d 1] [duty exists where circumstantial evidence relied on to prove any element,
including intent]; People v. Bloyd (1987) 43 Cal.3d 333, 351–352 [233 Cal.Rptr.
368, 729 P.2d 802].)
Give CALCRIM No. 223, Direct and Circumstantial Evidence: Defined, with this
instruction.
The Supreme Court has held that it is appropriate to give an instruction specifically
tailored to the use of circumstantial evidence in determining the truth of a special
circumstance allegation. (People v. Maury (2003) 30 Cal.4th 342, 428 [133
Cal.Rptr.2d 561, 68 P.3d 1]; People v. Hughes (2002) 27 Cal.4th 287, 346 [116
Cal.Rptr.2d 401, 39 P.3d 432]; People v. Lewis (2001) 25 Cal.4th 610, 653 [106
Cal.Rptr.2d 629, 22 P.3d 392].) However, the court is not required to give this
instruction if it has also given the more general instruction on circumstantial
evidence. (People v. Hines (1997) 15 Cal.4th 997, 1051 [64 Cal.Rptr.2d 594, 938
423
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P.2d 388]; People v. Lewis, supra, 25 Cal.4th at p. 653; see CALCRIM No. 224,
Circumstantial Evidence: Suffıciency of Evidence.)
Related Instructions
CALCRIM No. 223, Direct and Circumstantial Evidence: Defined.
CALCRIM No. 224, Circumstantial Evidence: Suffıciency of Evidence.
CALCRIM No. 225, Circumstantial Evidence: Intent or Mental State.
CALCRIM No. 705, Special Circumstances: Circumstantial Evidence—Intent or
Mental State.
AUTHORITY
• Duty to Instruct on Circumstantial Evidence Generally. People v. Yrigoyen
(1955) 45 Cal.2d 46, 49 [286 P.2d 1]; People v. Bloyd (1987) 43 Cal.3d 333,
351–352 [233 Cal.Rptr. 368, 729 P.2d 802].
• Appropriate to Instruct on Special Circumstance. People v. Maury (2003) 30
Cal.4th 342, 428 [133 Cal.Rptr.2d 561, 68 P.3d 1]; People v. Hughes (2002) 27
Cal.4th 287, 346 [116 Cal.Rptr.2d 401, 39 P.3d 432]; People v. Lewis (2001) 25
Cal.4th 610, 653 [106 Cal.Rptr.2d 629, 22 P.3d 392].
• Instruction Duplicative, Not Required. People v. Lewis (2001) 25 Cal.4th 610,
653 [106 Cal.Rptr.2d 629, 22 P.3d 392]; People v. Hines (1997) 15 Cal.4th 997,
1051 [64 Cal.Rptr.2d 594, 938 P.2d 388].
Secondary Sources
3 Witkin & Epstein, California Criminal Law (3d ed. 2000) Punishment, § 461.
4Millman, Sevilla & Tarlow, California Criminal Defense Practice, Ch. 83,
Evidence, § 83.03, Ch. 85, Submission to Jury and Verdict, § 85.03[2][a] (Matthew
Bender).
CALCRIM No. 704 HOMICIDE
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