ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE:
JULIE P. VERHEYE KAREN M. FREEMAN-WILSON
Mishawaka, Indiana Attorney General of Indiana
Deputy Attorney General
IDETTE HERRON, ) ) Appellant-Defendant, ) ) vs. ) No. 71A03-9912-CR-444 ) STATE OF INDIANA, ) ) Appellee-Plaintiff. )
OPINION - FOR PUBLICATION
places the dependent in a situation that may endanger his life or health;
commits neglect of a dependent, a Class D felony.
IC 35-46-1-4(a)(1). Dependent, as used in IC 35-46-1-4, is defined as an unemancipated
person who is under eighteen (18) years of age, or a person of
any age who is mentally or physically disabled. Ind. Code § 35-46-1-1(1998).
Responding to this question of first impression in Indiana, we must hold
that Indianas criminal statutory definition of dependent does not include an unborn child.
Interpretation of a statute is a pure question of law and we, therefore, review the trial courts decision de novo. Mahowald v. State, 719 N.E.2d 421, 424 (Ind. Ct. App. 1999). To determine whether an unborn child is a dependent, making Herrons cocaine use during pregnancy a crime pursuant to IC 35-46-1-4, we turn to the rules of statutory construction.
The primary goal in interpreting the meaning of a statute is to determine and effectuate legislative intent. Woods v. State, 703 N.E.2d 1115, 1117 (Ind. Ct. App. 1998). To determine legislative intent, we look to the plain language of the statute and attribute the common, ordinary meaning to terms found in everyday speech. Id. Where the General Assembly has defined a word, however, this court is bound by that definition. Rush v. Elkhart County Plan Commn, 698 N.E.2d 1211, 1215 (1998), trans. denied. Moreover, it is just as important to recognize what a statute does not say as it is to recognize what it does say. Id. A court may not read into a statute that which is not the expressed intent of the legislature. Id. Criminal statutes cannot be enlarged by construction, implication, or intendment beyond the fair meaning of the language used. Johnson v. State, 708 N.E.2d 912, 915 (Ind. Ct. App. 1999), trans. denied. Moreover, criminal statutes are strictly construed against the State. Pennington v. State, 426 N.E.2d 408, 410 (Ind. 1981). Even though an act may fall within the spirit of a statute, it will not constitute a crime unless it is also within the words of the statute. Id.
Where Indianas General Assembly has previously sought to criminalize conduct affecting unborn children, it has done so specifically. For example, the crime of feticide is specifically defined in the Indiana Code as the knowing or intentional termination of a human pregnancy with an intention other than to produce a live birth or to remove a dead fetus. Ind. Code § 35-42-1-6 (1998). Indianas murder statute also distinguishes between the knowing or intentional killing of a human being and the knowing or intentional killing of a fetus that has attained viability. Ind. Code § 35-42-1-1 (1998).
In contrast, the General Assembly has defined dependent as an unemancipated person who is under eighteen (18) years of age, or a person of any age who is mentally or physically disabled. IC 35-46-1-1. When considered in light of IC 35-42-1-6 and IC 35-42-1-1, this definition may not be fairly read to include the unborn.
We recognize that in a civil context, for some time Indiana case law has permitted recovery for injuries sustained by unborn children due to the negligent or intentional acts of others. See, Cowe by Cowe v. Forum Group, Inc., 575 N.E.2d 630, 636-37 (Ind. 1991); Walker v. Rinck, 604 N.E.2d 591, 594 (Ind. 1992). However, there is a vast difference between the imposition of civil liability under common law theories and the imposition of criminal liability. It is a well-settled rule in Indiana that all crimes are statutory. State v. Lopez, 156 Ind. App. 379, 296 N.E.2d 918, 921 (1973). Conduct by a defendant, however reprehensible, is not a crime unless the General Assembly has exercised its authority to define it as such.
In its brief, the State appears to concede that an unborn child is not a dependent under the General Assemblys definition. States brief, p.6. Nevertheless, the State argues that a mother may be prosecuted for acts done prior to her childs birth if those acts ultimately endanger the child after it is born, i.e., becomes a dependent. The State relies on Fout v. State, 575 N.E.2d 340 (Ind. Ct. App. 1991), in support of this proposition.
In Fout, we upheld a fathers conviction for neglect of a dependent based on his failure to seek medical treatment after his daughter was born with symptoms that he had been previously warned would require prompt medical attention. Id. at 342. We did not, as the State contends, uphold the conviction based on the fathers failure to heed pre-natal advice that the mother be hospitalized. It was the fathers failure to seek prompt medical attention subsequent to his daughters birth that served as the basis for the States charge and the fathers conviction for neglect of a dependent.
The States argument based on Fout is, therefore, without merit. The plain language of IC 35-46-1-4 contemplates only acts that place one who is a dependent at the time of the conduct at issue in a dangerous situation not acts that place a future dependent in a dangerous situation. We cannot expand the General Assemblys definition of a dependent and, consequently, the intended application of the neglect of a dependent statute, beyond the fair meaning of the words used. IC 35-46-1-1 and IC 35-46-1-4 do not criminalize conduct that occurs prior to a childs birth.
NAJAM, J., and FRIEDLANDER, J., concur.