Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District, Second Division
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.
Edward Welsh, Judge
L. Hicks appeals his conviction following a bench trial for
one count of first-degree sexual misconduct (§ 566.093,
RSMo), a class B misdemeanor, for which he was
sentenced to 180 days in the Jackson County Department of
Corrections. We affirm.
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.
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 warnings with Hicks, and Hicks agreed to
speak with him.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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).
to section 541.191, Missouri courts have jurisdiction to
enforce a criminal law if any element of the crime occurs
within the state. "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. As was the case in Williams,
however, we need not decide that ...