CALCRIM No. 851. Testimony on Intimate Partner Battering and Its Effects: Offered by the Defense
Judicial Council of California Criminal Jury Instructions (2020 edition)Download PDF
851.Testimony on Intimate Partner Battering and Its Effects:
Offered by the Defense
You have heard testimony from <insert name of expert>
regarding the effect of (battered women’s syndrome/intimate partner
battering/ <insert other description used by expert for
’s <insert name of expert> testimony about (battered
women’s syndrome/intimate partner battering/ <insert other
description used by expert for syndrome>) is not evidence that the
defendant committed any of the crimes charged against (him/her).
You may consider this evidence only in deciding whether the defendant
actually believed that (he/she) needed to defend (himself/herself) against
an immediate threat of great bodily injury or death, and whether that
belief was reasonable or unreasonable.
When deciding whether the defendant’s belief was reasonable or
unreasonable, consider all the circumstances as they were known by or
appeared to the defendant. Also consider what conduct would appear to
be necessary to a reasonable person in a similar situation with similar
New January 2006
The court has a sua sponte duty to give this instruction if an expert testifies on
intimate partner battering and its effects, previously known as battered women’s
syndrome. (See People v. Housley (1992) 6 Cal.App.4th 947, 958-959 [8
Cal.Rptr.2d 431] [sua sponte duty in context of child sexual abuse accommodation
syndrome]; People v. Bledsoe (1984) 36 Cal.3d 236, 250 [203 Cal.Rptr. 450, 681
P.2d 291] [rape trauma syndrome not admissible to prove rape occurred].)
The court may need to modify this instruction if the defense offers testimony on
intimate partner battering and its effects on an issue other than whether the
defendant actually and reasonably believed in the need for self-defense. (See People
v. Coffman and Marlow (2004) 34 Cal.4th 1, 98-101 [17 Cal.Rptr.3d 710, 96 P.3d
30] [evidence offered to show defendant did not act with intent to kill but acted out
of fear of codefendant].)
If this instruction is given, also give CALCRIM No. 303, Limited Purpose Evidence
in General, and CALCRIM No. 332, Expert Witness Testimony.
CALCRIM No. 850, Testimony on Intimate Partner Battering and Its Effects:
Credibility of Complaining Witness.
CALCRIM No. 505, Justifiable Homicide: Self-Defense or Defense of Another.
CALCRIM No. 571, Voluntary Manslaughter: Imperfect Self-Defense.
• Instructional Requirements. See Evid. Code, § 1107(a); People v. Humphrey
(1996) 13 Cal.4th 1073, 1088, fn. 5 [56 Cal.Rptr.2d 142, 921 P.2d 1]; People v.
Jaspar (2002) 98 Cal.App.4th 99, 111, fn. 6 [119 Cal.Rptr.2d 470].
• Abuse Defined. Evid. Code, § 1107(c); Fam. Code, § 6203.
• Domestic Violence Defined. Evid. Code, § 1107(c); Fam. Code, § 6211.
• Relevant After Single Incident of Abuse. See People v. Brown (2004) 33
Cal.4th 892, 906-908 [16 Cal.Rptr.3d 447, 94 P.3d 574]; People v. Williams
(2000) 78 Cal.App.4th 1118, 1129 [93 Cal.Rptr.2d 356].
• Relevant to Claim of Self-Defense. People v. Humphrey (1996) 13 Cal.4th
1073, 1082-1083, 1088-1089 [56 Cal.Rptr.2d 142, 921 P.2d 1].
See the Related Issues section of CALCRIM No. 850, Testimony on Intimate
Partner Battering and Its Effects: Credibility of Complaining Witness.
1 Witkin, California Evidence (5th ed. 2012) Opinion Evidence, §§ 49-52.
3 Millman, Sevilla & Tarlow, California Criminal Defense Practice, Ch. 71,
Scientific and Expert Evidence, § 71.04[d][v][C]; Ch. 73, Defenses and
Justifications, § 73.11[c] (Matthew Bender).
ASSAULTIVE AND BATTERY CRIMES CALCRIM No. 851