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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. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  2. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  3. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  4. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  5. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

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