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State v. Hill

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Fourth Division

August 30, 2016

STATE OF MISSOURI, Respondent,
v.
FREDERICK HILL, III, Appellant.

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of Pike County 14PI-CR00066 Honorable David H. Ash.

          Gary M. Gaertner, Jr., Judge

         Introduction

         Frederick Hill, III (Defendant) appeals from a sentence and judgment of conviction for first-degree trespass. He asserts that there was insufficient evidence to support his conviction in that the State cannot charge him with trespassing on his own property. We affirm.

         Background

         The State charged Defendant with the class B misdemeanor of trespass in the first degree. At trial, the State adduced the following evidence.

         In December of 2013, Mary Vinson (Vinson) and Defendant were living together in a mobile home in Bowling Green, Missouri (mobile home). According to testimony from Vinson, Defendant and Vinson jointly owned the mobile home, while Defendant made the rent payments for the lot.

         On December 5, 2013, Vinson applied for an order of protection against Defendant. The trial court granted an ex parte order of protection (Order) against Defendant, which stated that Defendant was not allowed to enter or stay upon the premises wherever Vinson may reside, her place of employment, or her school. Vinson listed the address of the mobile home as her residence on the application for the Order.

         On that same day, a Pike County deputy served the Order on Defendant at the mobile home. Vinson was not present in the mobile home at the time. The deputy knocked on the door and told Defendant that he had an order of protection to serve on him. The deputy read verbatim the entire Order to Defendant. Defendant did not know that Vinson had sought and obtained the Order against him before law enforcement had arrived. Because the Order specifically listed the address of the mobile home where Defendant resided, the deputy took that to mean that Defendant could not remain in the mobile home any longer. The deputy told Defendant that he had to leave the mobile home per the Order. Defendant replied that he had not done anything wrong and said that he was not leaving unless by force.

         Other officers arrived and had an extensive conversation with Defendant. Officers lined up at the door ready to forcibly enter the residence if Defendant continued to refuse to come out. It sounded to at least one of the officers that Defendant was barricading the door. Sometime between twenty minutes and an hour later, Defendant came out of the mobile home on his own without incident. The officers did not use physical force, and Defendant did not fight or resist the officers. Defendant was arrested for violating the Order because he remained in the residence after the officers had read him the Order.

         The defense moved for judgment of acquittal at the close of the State's case and at the close of evidence. The trial court denied both motions. The jury found Defendant guilty of trespass in the first degree, and the trial court sentenced him to ten days in jail. This appeal follows.

         Discussion

         Defendant argues that the trial court erred and violated his right to due process of law in overruling his motion for judgment of acquittal at the close of evidence and entering judgment against him for first-degree trespass, because the State cannot charge an owner with trespassing upon his or her own property. We disagree.

         A person commits the class B misdemeanor of trespass in the first degree when he or she "knowingly enters unlawfully or knowingly remains unlawfully in a building or inhabitable structure or upon real property." Section 569.140.[1] The chapter, definitions provided in Section 569.140 state that, "a person 'enters unlawfully or remains unlawfully' in or upon premises when he is not licensed or privileged to do so." Section 569.140; see also State v. Ritchie, 376 S.W.3d 58, 62 (Mo. App. E.D. 2012).

         Defendant's point on appeal challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his conviction. However, his argument is focused on whether the State can legally charge an owner with trespassing on his or her own property, therefore our ...


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