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Miscarriage an 'act' in intimidation charge

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The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed today a man's conviction of and sentence for intimidation after he threatened his wife, who recently miscarried. The appellate court ruled the miscarriage fulfilled the "act" part of the charge as contemplated by Indiana statute.

Manuel Clara appealed his conviction and sentence in Manual Clara v. State of Indiana, No. 19A04-0806-CR-345, in which the trial court denied his motion for judgment on the evidence or directed verdict.

Clara blamed his wife, Tosha, for her miscarriage a few weeks earlier and threatened to kill her and their 2-year-old son. He grabbed a knife from the kitchen and even screwed one of their home's doors shut so Tosha couldn't leave. She eventually escaped with their son and called police.

The intimidation charge against Clara provided that he threatened Tosha with the intent she "be placed in fear of retaliation for a prior lawful act, to wit: because [Tosha] had miscarried their child." Clara moved for a directed verdict, arguing miscarriage isn't an "act" as considered by the statute defining intimidation, so the state failed to establish the elements of the offense. The trial court denied the motion and he was found guilty; Clara was sentenced to the advisory sentence of four years on his intimidation conviction.

In his appeal, Clara argued that an "act" under the statute must be volitional, so the miscarriage couldn't count.

Using the dictionary definition of "act" as "the thing done," the act can be intentional, unintentional, volitional, or non-volitional, wrote Senior Judge John Sharpnack. Here, the state alleged and proved Tosha's miscarriage was "the thing done" and further showed Clara's threat to commit a forcible felony was based upon the miscarriage. As a result, the appellate court affirmed the trial court ruling.

The Court of Appeals also affirmed Clara's advisory four-year sentence as appropriate because Clara intimidated Tosha for more than two hours and threatened to kill his son as a result of his wife's miscarriage.

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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