State v. Galusha, No. 94-248

Docket NºNo. 94-248
Citation665 A.2d 595, 164 Vt. 91
Case DateAugust 04, 1995
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Vermont

Page 595

665 A.2d 595
164 Vt. 91
STATE of Vermont
v.
Harold A. GALUSHA.
No. 94-248.
Supreme Court of Vermont.
Aug. 4, 1995.

Page 596

[164 Vt. 92] William D. Wright, Bennington County State's Attorney, and Marcia J. Moss, Deputy State's Attorney, Bennington, for plaintiff-appellant.

Charles S. Martin of Martin & Paolini, Barre, for defendant-appellee.

Before ALLEN, C.J., and GIBSON, DOOLEY, MORSE and JOHNSON, JJ.

MORSE, Justice.

The State appeals the dismissal of an attempted extortion charge against defendant Harold Galusha. It argues that "injury to the person" in 13 V.S.A. § 1701 includes injury other than physical harm and that the trial court should not have dismissed the charge for lack of a prima facie case. V.R.Cr.P. 12(d). We agree and reverse.

The State's information alleged that defendant delivered a letter to a female minor, in which he threatened to disclose a sexually explicit videotape to the minor's parents and custodian unless she agreed to continue their relationship. The videotape showed defendant and the minor engaged in sexual acts.

The statute in issue states:

A person who maliciously threatens to accuse another of a crime or offense, or with an injury to his person or property, with intent to extort money or other pecuniary advantage, or with intent to compel the person so threatened to do an act against his will, shall be imprisoned not more than three years or fined not more than $500.00, or both.

13 V.S.A. § 1701 (emphasis added).

In construing the statute, our goal is to effect legislative intent. State v. Wilcox, 160 Vt. 271, 275, 628 A.2d 924, 926 (1993). In its construction of § 1701, the trial court relied on the maxim that penal statutes should be interpreted in a manner most favorably to the accused. State v. Frechette, 161 Vt. 233, 234, 637 A.2d 1080, 1081 [164 Vt. 93] (1993). The rationale behind this rule is that strict construction is essential to "guard against the creation of criminal offenses outside the contemplation of the legislature under the guise of 'judicial construction.' " State v. Oliver, 151 Vt. 626, 629, 563 A.2d 1002, 1004 (1989). Penal statutes, however, must not be interpreted so strictly as to defeat the legislative purpose in enacting the law or to produce irrational and absurd consequences. Frechette, 161 Vt. at 234, 637 A.2d at 1081.

Other jurisdictions have split on the issue of whether the phrase "injury to the person" means injury to one's mental well-being, such as damage...

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11 practice notes
  • Rivera v. Double A Transportation, Inc., (SC 15972)
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • March 16, 1999
    ...to the person" includes severe mental anguish); People v. Igaz, 119 Mich. App. 172, 189, 326 N.W.2d 420 (1982) (same); State v. Galusha, 164 Vt. 91, 93-94, 665 A.2d 595 (1995) The plaintiff also argues that if the legislature had intended § 52-584 to apply when there has been only mental in......
  • State v. Payne, No. 15395
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • May 6, 1997
    ...to the person" includes severe mental anguish); People v. Igaz, 119 Mich.App. 172, 189-90, 326 N.W.2d 420 (1982) (same); State v. Galusha, 164 Vt. 91, 665 A.2d 595, 597 (1995) The defendant also argues that if the legislature had intended to criminalize conduct posing a risk of injury to a ......
  • Institute of Govern. Advoc. v. Fair Polit. Prac., No. CIVS-01-859 FCD JFM.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
    • September 17, 2001
    ...to be, pressured, coerced, or tempted into voting on the basis of cash contributions rather than on consideration of the public weal." 164 Vt. at 91, 665 A.2d Plaintiffs argue that defendants' reliance on these cases is misplaced because Section 85702 does not have a similar restriction pro......
  • State v. Dixon, No. 97-166.
    • United States
    • Vermont United States State Supreme Court of Vermont
    • January 8, 1999
    ...favorable to the accused so that we do not create criminal liability outside the contemplation of the Legislature. See State v. Galusha, 164 Vt. 91, 93, 665 A.2d 595, 596 The common law is clear that the landlord may not prevent invitees or licensees of the tenant from entering the tenant's......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
11 cases
  • Rivera v. Double A Transportation, Inc., (SC 15972)
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • March 16, 1999
    ...to the person" includes severe mental anguish); People v. Igaz, 119 Mich. App. 172, 189, 326 N.W.2d 420 (1982) (same); State v. Galusha, 164 Vt. 91, 93-94, 665 A.2d 595 (1995) The plaintiff also argues that if the legislature had intended § 52-584 to apply when there has been only mental in......
  • State v. Payne, No. 15395
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • May 6, 1997
    ...to the person" includes severe mental anguish); People v. Igaz, 119 Mich.App. 172, 189-90, 326 N.W.2d 420 (1982) (same); State v. Galusha, 164 Vt. 91, 665 A.2d 595, 597 (1995) The defendant also argues that if the legislature had intended to criminalize conduct posing a risk of injury to a ......
  • Institute of Govern. Advoc. v. Fair Polit. Prac., No. CIVS-01-859 FCD JFM.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
    • September 17, 2001
    ...to be, pressured, coerced, or tempted into voting on the basis of cash contributions rather than on consideration of the public weal." 164 Vt. at 91, 665 A.2d Plaintiffs argue that defendants' reliance on these cases is misplaced because Section 85702 does not have a similar restriction pro......
  • State v. Dixon, No. 97-166.
    • United States
    • Vermont United States State Supreme Court of Vermont
    • January 8, 1999
    ...favorable to the accused so that we do not create criminal liability outside the contemplation of the Legislature. See State v. Galusha, 164 Vt. 91, 93, 665 A.2d 595, 596 The common law is clear that the landlord may not prevent invitees or licensees of the tenant from entering the tenant's......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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