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Divided court reverses teen’s intimidation adjudication

January 30, 2014

Split over whether a teen’s threats toward his grandfather were intended to place the man in fear of retaliation for a prior lawful act, two Indiana Court of Appeals judges reversed a teen’s delinquency adjudication for committing intimidation.

Terry Landis called 911 and told law enforcement that he had escaped from his residence after his teenage grandson C.L. had held him hostage for several days because Landis refused to give a portion of a home loan he planned to take out to C.L. to buy a car. C.L. said if he didn’t get the money he would beat his grandfather and that if he got sent to jail he would kill his grandfather when he got out. Landis was fearful of his grandson because of his strength and size.

C.L. was adjudicated delinquent for committing one count of what would be Class A misdemeanor intimidation if committed by an adult. In In Re: The Matter of C.L., a Delinquent v. State of Indiana, 05A04-1306-JV-319, Judges John Baker and Terry Crone reversed because the statute requires the threats to place Landis in fear of retaliation for a prior lawful act. The majority held the threats made by C.L. were conditional and targeted a future conduct. Landis testified he had not taken out the loan yet at the time C.L. demanded the money.

Judge Edward Najam dissented, writing that Landis’ decision to get the home loan for repairs and refusal to give C.L. any portion of the loan constitute a prior lawful act. A reasonable inference from the evidence demonstrates that C.L.’s threats were intended to place his grandfather in fear of retaliation for his prior lawful act of having decided not to surrender a portion of the loan proceeds to C.L., Najam wrote.
 

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