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People v. Chiu

Citation. People v. Chiu, 325 P.3d 974 (Cal. 2014)
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Brief Fact Summary.

Bobby Chiu appealed a first-degree murder conviction after he was convicted for the first-degree murder of Treadway as a result of participating in an assault against the decedent. 

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

Under the natural and probable consequences doctrine, an accomplice cannot be charged with first-degree murder.


Bobby Chiu (Chiu) participated in a fight in which Che, an associate of Chiu’s, killed Treadway. Chiu was convicted of aiding and abetting Che in the murder as well as aiding and abetting Che in the assault, in which the death of Treadway was the natural and probable consequence of their acts. The trial court found Chiu guilty of first-degree murder and Chiu appealed. The court of appeals reversed. 


Whether an accomplice can be charged with first-degree murder?


No. An aider and abetter cannot be charged with first-degree murder. Che can be charged with second-degree murder or may be retried. The judgment of the court of appeals is affirmed. 


(Kennard, J.) An aider and abetter may only be convicted of first-degree murder if the aider and abettor can reasonably foresee the murder of the victim. Therefore, Chiu’s first-degree murder conviction could have been upheld if Chiu would have reasonably foreseen the premeditated murder of Treadway. 


Treadway was going to be murdered regardless of Chiu’s participation in the assault, therefore it is not appropriate for Chiu to be charged with first-degree murder under the natural and probably consequences doctrine. 

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