What is the test for corroborating the testimony of an alleged accomplice under section 1111 of the Criminal Code?

California, United States of America


The following excerpt is from People v. Curry, C078652 (Cal. App. 2020):

Section 1111 provides in relevant part: "A conviction can not be had upon the testimony of an accomplice unless it be corroborated by such other evidence as shall tend to connect the defendant with the commission of the offense; and the corroboration is not sufficient if it merely shows the commission of the offense or the circumstances thereof." "To corroborate the testimony of an accomplice, the prosecution must present 'independent evidence,' that is, evidence that 'tends to connect the defendant with the crime charged' without aid or assistance from the accomplice's testimony. [Citation.] Corroborating evidence is sufficient if it tends to implicate the defendant and thus relates to some act or fact that is an element of the crime." (People v. Avila (2006) 38 Cal.4th

Page 14

491, 562-563.) " 'Corroborating evidence may be slight, entirely circumstantial, and entitled to little consideration when standing alone. [Citations.] It need not be sufficient to establish every element of the charged offense or to establish the precise facts to which the accomplice testified. [Citations.] It is "sufficient if it tends to connect the defendant with the crime in such a way as to satisfy the jury that the accomplice is telling the truth." [Citation.]' " (People v. Manibusan (2013) 58 Cal.4th 40, 95.)

"An accomplice is 'one who is liable to prosecution for the identical offense charged against the defendant on trial in the cause in which the testimony of the accomplice is given.' [Citation.] To be so chargeable, the witness must be a principal under section 31. That section defines principals as '[a]ll persons concerned in the commission of a crime, whether . . . they directly commit the act constituting the offense, or aid and abet in its commission. . . .' [Citation.] An aider and abettor is one who acts with both knowledge of the perpetrator's criminal purpose and the intent of encouraging or facilitating commission of the offense." (People v. Avila, supra, 38 Cal.4th at p. 564.)

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