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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. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  2. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  3. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

  4. The fee increase would be livable except for the 11% increase in spending at the Disciplinary Commission. The Commission should be focused on true public harm rather than going on witch hunts against lawyers who dare to criticize judges.

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