California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI)

224. Testimony of Child

You have heard testimony from a witness who is [ ] years old. As with any other witness, you must decide whether the child gave truthful and accurate testimony.

In evaluating a child’s testimony, you should consider all of the factors surrounding that testimony, including the child’s age and ability to perceive, understand, remember, and communicate.

You should not discount or distrust testimony just because a witness is a child.

New April 2008

Sources and Authority

  • Evidence Code section 700 provides: “Except as otherwise provided by statute, every person, irrespective of age, is qualified to be a witness and no person is disqualified to testify to any matter.”
  • Penal Code section 1127f provides:

    In any criminal trial or proceeding in which a child 10 years of age or younger testifies as a witness, upon the request of a party, the court shall instruct the jury, as follows:

    In evaluating the testimony of a child you should consider all of the factors surrounding the child’s testimony, including the age of the child and any evidence regarding the child’s level of cognitive development. Although, because of age and level of cognitive development, a child may perform differently as a witness from an adult, that does not mean that a child is any more or less credible a witness than an adult. You should not discount or distrust the testimony of a child solely because he or she is a child.

Secondary Sources

3 Witkin, California Evidence (4th ed. 2000) Presentation, § 88(3)

Wegner et al., California Practice Guide: Civil Trial and Evidence (The Rutter Group) ¶¶ 8:228–8:230

Jefferson’s California Evidence Benchbook (Cont.Ed.Bar 3d ed.) § 26.2

48 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 551, Trial, §§ 551.111, 551.113, 551.122 (Matthew Bender)

1 Cotchett, California Courtroom Evidence, Ch. 16, Competency, Oath, Confrontation, Experts, Interpreters, Credibility, and Hypnosis, § 16.01 (Matthew Bender)