California Criminal Jury Instructions (CALCRIM) (2017)
917. Insulting Words Are Not a DefenseDownload PDF
917.Insulting Words Are Not a Defense
Words, no matter how offensive, and acts that are not threatening, are
not enough to justify an assault or battery.
[However, if you conclude that <insert name> spoke or
acted in a way that threatened <insert name of defendant or
third party allegedly threatened> with immediate harm [[or an unlawful
touching]/ [or] great bodily injury/ [or] trespass on land/ [or] trespass
against goods], you may consider that evidence in deciding whether
<insert name of defendant> acted in (self-defense/ [or]
defense of others).]
New January 2006
There is no sua sponte duty to give this instruction. It is no defense to battery or
assault that insulting or offensive words, or acts that fall short of a threat of
immediate harm, were used. (People v. Mayes (1968) 262 Cal.App.2d 195, 197 [68
Cal.Rptr. 476]; People v. Mueller (1956) 147 Cal.App.2d 233, 239–240 [305 P.2d
If the evidence raises the issue of defense of self or others, give the bracketed
paragraph along with any other appropriate defense instruction. (See People v.
Johnston (2003) 113 Cal.App.4th 1299, 1303 [7 Cal.Rptr.3d 161]; see CALCRIM
• Instructional Requirements. See People v. Davis (1995) 10 Cal.4th 463, 542
[41 Cal.Rptr.2d 826, 896 P.2d 119]; People v. Mueller (1956) 147 Cal.App.2d
233, 239–240 [305 P.2d 178].
1 Witkin & Epstein, California Criminal Law (3d ed. 2000) Crimes Against the
Person, § 6.
3 Millman, Sevilla & Tarlow, California Criminal Defense Practice, Ch. 73,
Defenses and Justiﬁcations, § 73.11 (Matthew Bender).
918–924. Reserved for Future Use