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What is the Corpus Delicti Rule and How Can it Help My DUI Case?


Every California criminal crime has an element that the prosecution is required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. A California DUI charge also has two specific elements that the prosecutors or city attorneys need to prove before being able to obtain a conviction.


What Elements Need To Be Proved in A California DUI Case?


To convict you of a California DUI the prosecutor or city attorney must prove that:


1)   You dove a vehicle; AND

2)   When you drove the vehicle you were under the influence AND your Blood Alcohol Level was 0.08 or higher by weight.


For more information on the elements of a DUI charge click here and take a look at instruction 2110 and 2111.  For more information about the Corpus Delicti rule take a look at instruction 359.


How Can The Corpus Delicti Rule Help My California DUI Case?


The Corpus Delicti (Latin for Body of Evidence) holds that:


A defendant may not be convicted of any crime based on (his/her) out-of-court statements alone. These statements maybe relied on ONLY IF other evidence shows that the charged crime was committed.



This means that the prosecution or city attorneys would have to have some independent evidence, such as a witness who saw you driving to be able to convict you of a DUI.


So, if you have been involved in a DUI and no witnesses have identified you as the driver, and no one else saw you driving you may have a good defense based on the Corpus Delicti.


What Is The Corpus To Prove A DUI in California?


The Corpus for a DUI in California is that 1) An Individual; 2) While under the influence; 3) Drove on a highway.


In What Type of Cases is the Corpus Delicti Rule Generally Raised?


The rule generally applies in cases where the police did not directly see the defendant driving a vehicle. For example, if the defendant was involved in an accident and had to be transported to the hospital prior to the police arriving on the scene the rule is in full effect. If the defendant has made any statements to the police that he/she was the driver of the vehicle, the law currently states that the statements may be admitted, however, if the court or jury finds the defendant guilty, the defendant may move for a dismissal if the city attorney or prosecutor had not established by independent evidence that a DUI had been committed.


The caveat that should be noted here is that, the evidence that needs to be proven is slight and does not need to show beyond a reasonable doubt that a DUI had been committed and the Defendant was the person who committed it (i.e. the rule does not apply to the identity of the Defendant), however it should be sufficient to allow a reasonable inference that a DUI had been committed.


If you have been charged with a DUI in San Diego having the correct knowledge would allow your San Diego Criminal Defense Lawyer to successfully fight your case on your behalf to be able to get you a better deal, or even sometimes dismiss the charges against you.


If you or a loved one has been involved in a DUI don’t make the mistake of not going with the best defense. DUIs are extremely difficult cases but having the right attorney could make a big difference. For your free case evaluation contact our office we look forward to assisting you.




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