CALCRIM 403 (California Criminal Jury Instructions)

In People v. Chiu (2014) 59 Cal.4th 155, the jury was instructed pursuant to CALCRIM No. 403 that the defendant could be found guilty of murder under the natural and probable consequences theory if he (1) committed one of two target offenses (assault and disturbing the peace); (2) as a coparticipant committed murder during commission of the target offense; and (3) as a reasonable person in the defendant's position would have known the murder was a natural and probable consequence of either target offense. If the jury found the defendant guilty of murder on this theory, it then had to decide whether the crime was in the first or second degree. Specifically, the jury was instructed under CALCRIM No. 521 that the defendant was guilty of first degree murder if the prosecution proved that the perpetrator of the murder acted willfully, deliberately, and with premeditation; otherwise, the murder was of the second degree. (Chiu, supra, 59 Cal.4th at pp. 160-161.) In reversing the defendant's conviction of first degree murder, the Supreme Court "held that punishment for second degree murder is commensurate with a defendant's culpability for aiding and abetting a target crime that would naturally, probably, and foreseeably result in a murder under the natural and probable consequences doctrine. We further hold that where the direct perpetrator is guilty of first degree premeditated murder, the legitimate public policy considerations of deterrence and culpability would not be served by allowing a defendant to be convicted of that greater offense under the natural and probable consequences doctrine." (Chiu, supra, 59 Cal.4th at p. 166, italics added.) Accordingly, the instructional error "affected only the degree of the crime of which defendant was convicted." (Id. at p. 168.) The court also recognized that its holding "does not affect or limit an aider and abettor's liability for first degree felony murder under section 189" and that "aiders and abettors may still be convicted of first degree premeditated murder based on direct aiding and abetting principles." (Id. at pp. 166-167.)