When will the appellate court review the special circumstance instruction in an assault case?

California, United States of America


The following excerpt is from People v. Beeler, 39 Cal.Rptr.2d 607, 891 P.2d 153, 9 Cal.4th 953 (Cal. 1995):

Defendant contends this instruction was insufficient in two respects. Before turning to the merits of those contentions, we note his acknowledgment that "... defense counsel did not object to the intent to kill instruction in the lower court." Defendant contends this failure to object does not constitute a waiver because under Penal Code section 1259, "The appellate court may also review any instruction given, refused or modified, even [9 Cal.4th 983] though no objection was made thereto in the lower court, if the substantial rights of the defendant were affected thereby." As we shall explain below, we find no merit to defendant's objections to the instructions. We therefore need not decide the procedural question of whether those objections were properly preserved under Penal Code section 1259. We note, however, that what defendant appears to be asserting is that the trial court should have explained the special circumstance instruction. In the absence of a request, however, a trial court is under no obligation to amplify or explain an instruction. (People v. Bonin (1989) 47 Cal.3d 808, 856, 254 Cal.Rptr. 298, 765 P.2d 460; People v. Anderson (1966) 64 Cal.2d 633, 639, 51 Cal.Rptr. 238, 414 P.2d 366.) We shall nevertheless address the merits of defendant's contentions.

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