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California Proposition 18, Special Circumstances in Murder Trials (2000)

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California Proposition 18 was on the March 7, 2000 ballot in California as a legislatively-referred state statute, where it was approved.

Proposition 18 amended California law so that a case of first degree murder is eligible for a finding of a special circumstance if the murderer intentionally killed the victim "by means of lying in wait." Because of Proposition 18, jurors are permitted to find that a special circumstance exists not only when a murder occurs immediately at the time of a confrontation between the murderer and the victim, but also in those cases where the murderer waits for the victim, captures the victim, transports the victim to another location, and then commits the murder.[1]

Proposition 18 also amended the laws about special circumstances so that "a case of first degree murder is eligible for a finding of a special circumstance if arson or kidnapping is committed to further the murder scheme."[1]

When a jury finds that special circumstances exist, the murderer is subject to punishment by death or by life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, instead of a maximum prison sentence of 25 years to life. Therefore, the ultimate consequence of Proposition 18 is that in cases of murder by "lying in wait" or murder that involves arson or kidnapping, the murderer is subject to punishment by death or life imprisonment with no possibility of parole.[1]

Election results

Proposition 18
Approveda Yes 5,112,109 72.6%

Text of measure


The ballot title was:

Murder: Special Circumstances. Legislative Initiative Amendment.


The summary of the ballot measure prepared by the California Attorney General read:

  • Amends provisions of Penal Code section 190 defining the special circumstances where first degree murder is punishable by either death or life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. Provides that a special circumstance exists for killings committed "by means of lying in wait" rather than "while lying in wait." Provides that a special circumstance exists where murder is committed while the defendant was involved in acts of kidnapping or arson, even if it is proved that the defendant had a specific intent to kill, and the kidnapping or arson was committed to facilitate murder.

Fiscal impact

See also: Fiscal impact statement

The California Legislative Analyst's Office provided an estimate of net state and local government fiscal impact for Proposition 18. That estimate was:

  • Unknown, probably minor, additional state costs.

Path to the ballot

Proposition 18 was voted onto the ballot by the California State Legislature via Senate Bill 1878 of the 1997-98 Regular Session (Chapter 629, Statutes of 1998).

Votes in legislature to refer to ballot
Chamber Ayes Noes
Assembly 66 2
Senate 28 6

See also

External links