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Name: People v. Najera
Case #: S141654
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 06/05/2008

The trial court does not have sua sponte duty to instruct with CALJIC No. 2.15 in every theft case. Appellant was convicted of vehicle theft after he was spotted driving a stolen car using an altered key. On appeal, he asserted that the trial court had erred in failing to instruct the jury sua sponte that possession of recently stolen property was insufficient by itself to establish guilt of the charged offenses (CALJIC No. 2.15). The Court of Appeal found that CALJIC No. 2.15 was not the type of instruction that must be given sua sponte in every theft-related case. The California Supreme Court affirmed the appellate court’s decision. CALJIC No. 2.15 was merely a specific application of the general instruction regarding circumstantial evidence and was therefore not vital to a proper consideration of the evidence by the jury. The trial court had no duty to give CALJIC No. 2.15 on its own motion.