Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District, Special Division
from the Circuit Court of Jackson County, Missouri The
Honorable Jeffrey C. Keal, Judge.
Zel M. Fischer, Special Judge, Presiding, Mark D. Pfeiffer,
Chief Judge, and Gary D. Witt, Judge
D. Pfeiffer, Chief Judge.
Larsen ("Larsen") was charged with the class D
felony of driving while intoxicated ("DWI") as a
persistent offender after he had previously pled guilty to a
municipal DWI ordinance violation which arose from the same
incident. The Circuit Court of Jackson County, Missouri
("circuit court"), dismissed the felony DWI charge
on double jeopardy grounds and the State has appealed. We
and Procedural Background
28, 2014, John Larsen was arrested for DWI in Greenwood,
Missouri. He was charged with violating a municipal DWI
ordinance in the City of Greenwood Municipal Court and
pleaded guilty to that charge on October 7, 2014. The judge
presiding in the Greenwood municipal division of the circuit
court entered judgment against Larsen the same day.
October 23, 2014, the Jackson County Prosecutor sought to
prosecute Larsen for the class D felony of driving while
intoxicated as a persistent offender,  said charge
arising from the same incident as the municipal ordinance
violation and resulting October 7, 2014 judgment.
attorney filed a motion to dismiss the felony DWI charge,
asserting double jeopardy protection. See State v.
M.L.S., 275 S.W.3d 293, 296 (Mo. App. W.D. 2008)
("The Double Jeopardy Clause prevents a criminal
defendant from being subjected to multiple punishments for
the same offense." (internal quotation omitted)). The
circuit court agreed and dismissed the case, stating:
[Larsen] has already pleaded guilty in the City of Greenwood
Municipal Court for driving while intoxicated stemming from
events on June 28, 2014. As any new charge related to these
same events would violate [Larsen's] protection from
"Double Jeopardy" afforded to him by the
5th and 14th Amendments of the United
States Constitution and Article 1 §19 of the Missouri
Constitution, the case brought by the State of Missouri
(1416-CR03682) against [Larsen] is hereby
The State has filed this timely appeal.
a defendant is afforded the protections of the Double
Jeopardy Clause is a question of law, which we review de
novo." M.L.S., 275 S.W.3d at 296.
State's point on appeal, it argues that the Greenwood
municipal division of the circuit court lacked subject matter
jurisdiction and its judgment is a nullity; thus, the
State argues that the present felony DWI charge is not barred
under principles of double jeopardy analysis. However, the
State's subject matter jurisdiction argument is nothing
more than a "jurisdictional competence" argument
that our Missouri Supreme Court has previously rejected.
See J.C.W. ex rel. Webb v. Wyciskalla, 275 S.W.3d
249, 254 (Mo. banc 2009).
Webb, our Supreme Court succinctly explained that
the subject matter jurisdiction of Missouri's courts is
dictated by article V of the Missouri Constitution.
Id. at 253. For example, in Webb, the court
in question was a circuit court; thus, our Supreme Court
evaluated that judge's subject matter jurisdiction under
article V, section 14 (the provision governing circuit judge
jurisdiction). Id. at 253-54. In footnote 7, the
Supreme Court referred to the subject matter jurisdiction of
associate circuit court judges under article V, section 17
(the provision governing associate circuit judge
jurisdiction). Id. at 254 n.7. Here, the question
presented is: What subject matter jurisdiction does a judge
have in the municipal ...