What is the test for a defendant challenging an instruction as being subject to erroneous interpretation by the jury?

California, United States of America


The following excerpt is from People v. Dunn, B280982 (Cal. App. 2018):

"A defendant challenging an instruction as being subject to erroneous interpretation by the jury must demonstrate a reasonable likelihood that the jury understood the instruction in the way asserted by the defendant. [Citations.]" (People v. Cross supra, 45 Cal.4th at pp. 67-68.) We independently review whether there was such a likelihood. (See People v. Olivas (2016) 248 Cal.App.4th 758, 772-773; see also People v. Smithey (1999) 20 Cal.4th 936, 963.) Defendant has failed to make this showing.

Page 22

Defendant's argument would require us to find that the jury disregarded CALCRIM No. 200. A jury is generally presumed to follow the court's instructions. (People v. Coffman and Marlow (2004) 34 Cal.4th 1, 83.) Defendant fails to cite anything in the record that would overcome this presumption. For example, there were no jury questions about character evidence.

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