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Name: People v. Lima
Case #: D041856
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 05/04/2004
Subsequent History: Rev. den. 7/28/04

The “provocative act” doctrine applies where a defendant’s attempted escape from police involved a high-speed, dangerous chase committed with conscious disregard for life. This case involved a police pursuit in which a bystander’s car was struck by a police car, and the bystander was killed in the collision. The defendant was convicted of first degree murder under a provocative act theory, and on appeal argued that that doctrine applied only to cases in which the act causing the death amounted to a conscious and deliberate use of lethal force with lethal intent. The Court of Appeal rejected this argument, noting that while the Supreme Court has only specifically applied the theory to shootings, high-speed vehicle escapes have been held to demonstrate implied malice in other contexts. Here the facts demonstrated that the defendant fled the police in a reckless manner showing a conscious disregard for the obvious danger to human life, thus satisfying both the implied malice standard for second degree murder and the elements of provocative act murder, i.e., an intentional act that is likely to cause death, committed with a conscious disregard for life.