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State v. Hicks

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District, Second Division

June 6, 2017

STATE OF MISSOURI, Respondent,
v.
BRIAN L. HICKS, Appellant.

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of Jackson County, Missouri The Honorable Jeffrey Craig Keal, Judge

          Before: Thomas H. Newton, P.J., James Edward Welsh, and Karen King Mitchell, JJ.

          James Edward Welsh, Judge

         Brian L. Hicks appeals his conviction following a bench trial for one count of first-degree sexual misconduct (§ 566.093, RSMo[1]), a class B misdemeanor, for which he was sentenced to 180 days in the Jackson County Department of Corrections. We affirm.

         Background

         The evidence presented at Hicks's bench trial showed that, on the morning of June 1, 2015, Patricia Stefancik was at a McDonald's restaurant with her husband and noticed Hicks sitting at a nearby table. Stefancik could see that Hicks was holding his exposed penis in his hand and masturbating. Stefancik, who identified Hicks at trial, told the judge that she was "shocked to see something like that in public." Stefancik also saw that there was a child sitting nearby, so she notified a McDonald's employee about the situation.

         The police were summoned, and Hicks was promptly arrested and taken to a detention facility where he was "under the control of the City of Independence, its jail staff, and its police department." That afternoon, Hicks was interviewed by Independence Missouri Police Detective Robert Brady. The detective went over the Miranda[2] warnings with Hicks, and Hicks agreed to speak with him.

         The interrogation was not recorded, but Detective Brady recounted that Hicks told him that he was masturbating in the McDonald's restaurant, and there was a woman there who seemed "alarmed by his behavior." Hicks told the officer that he did not think anybody could see him where he was at, and he stated that "he didn't have any intention on harming anybody."

         Psychologist Dr. Eric Gaughan testified for the defense that he had examined Hicks at the Jackson County Detention Center shortly before the trial. The doctor sought to determine whether Hicks, who has a history of mental health issues, had understood the Miranda warnings when he agreed to speak with Detective Brady.

         The circuit court ultimately found Hicks guilty of first-degree sexual misconduct and sentenced him to 180 days in the Jackson County Department of Corrections. Hicks was given credit for time served and released. Hicks appeals.

          Discussion

         Hicks contends that the circuit court erred in finding him guilty of sexual misconduct because the State produced no evidence to establish that the crime occurred in the State of Missouri, in that there was no evidence at trial as to where the McDonald's restaurant was located, and, thus, the State failed to establish its jurisdiction over the crime.

         We review a claim of insufficient evidence to establish that the crime occurred in Missouri under the same standard that we apply to a claim of insufficient evidence. See State v. Williams, 455 S.W.3d 1, 5-6 (Mo. App. 2013) (noting that a claim that the State "failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the crimes occurred in Missouri" "takes the form of a sufficiency-of-the-evidence challenge"). In reviewing a claim of insufficient evidence in a court-tried criminal case, we are limited to determining whether there is sufficient evidence from which the trial court could have reasonably found the defendant guilty. State v. Vandevere, 175 S.W.3d 107, 108 (Mo. banc 2005). In applying this standard, we accept all evidence and inferences favorable to the judgment as true, and we disregard all evidence and inferences to the contrary. Id. We greatly defer to the trier of fact, and we give equal weight to circumstantial evidence and direct evidence. State v. Shoemaker, 448 S.W.3d 853, 856 (Mo. App. 2014).

         Pursuant to section 541.191, Missouri courts have jurisdiction to enforce a criminal law if any element of the crime occurs within the state.[3] "Jurisdiction describes the power of a court to try a case." State v. Taylor, 238 S.W.3d 145, 149 (Mo. banc 2007). "Jurisdictional doctrine prevents courts from holding trials when the crime at issue occurred out of state; a state court lacks the authority to enforce criminal law unless the conduct, or some substantial portion of it, occurred within the state." Id. A court cannot hear a case if it lacks jurisdiction. Id. The standard of proof required to establish jurisdiction in a criminal case has not been definitively resolved in Missouri. Williams, 455 S.W.3d at 6.[4] As was the case in Williams, however, we need not decide that ...


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