Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

State v. Shaw

Supreme Court of Missouri, En Banc

December 10, 2019

STATE OF MISSOURI, Respondent,
v.
CHARLES C. SHAW III, Appellant.

          APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF POLK COUNTY Honorable Michael O. Hendrickson, Judge

          W. BRENT POWELL, JUDGE

         Charles C. Shaw III appeals from a judgment of conviction on one count of first-degree assault, § 565.050, and one count of felony resisting arrest, § 575.150.[1] Shaw argues the circuit court erred in overruling his motion for judgment of acquittal because the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction of felony resisting arrest. Because the State presented sufficient evidence to support a finding beyond a reasonable doubt that Shaw resisted an arrest for an offense and that offense constitutes a felony as a matter of law, the circuit court's judgment is affirmed.

         Factual and Procedural Background

         Charles Shaw was outside Harvest Assembly Church in Fair Play, Missouri, on May 19, 2013. During a church service, a parishioner stepped outside the church with his two-year-old son, and Shaw approached him. Shaw aggressively told the parishioner, "I'm the sorriest, sickest mother-[expletive] alive and I need someone to kick my [expletive]." Attempting to calm Shaw, the parishioner offered to find someone to assist him inside the church, but Shaw continued to act aggressively, dropping his head while approaching the parishioner and his young son.

         When he got within arms' length, Shaw attacked the parishioner with his fists while the parishioner was still holding his son. The parishioner was able to block Shaw's blows with his forearm, but not without sustaining injuries. The parishioner retreated to the parking lot, but Shaw pursued him, continuing to shout profanities, threatening the parishioner, and threatening to kidnap the parishioner's child. The parishioner eventually was able to reenter the church with his son. The church doors were locked, and another parishioner called 911. The locked doors prevented Shaw from entering the church, but he remained on the church premises.

         Missouri State Highway Patrolman Mark Mason responded to the 911 call. When he arrived at the scene, Trooper Mason observed Shaw pressed against the main doors of the church, peering inside. Trooper Mason tried to engage Shaw in conversation, but Shaw ignored the Trooper's attempts at deescalation. Shaw instead charged Trooper Mason and began throwing punches. Trooper Mason avoided Shaw's attack and sprayed him with pepper spray. With the help of several parishioners, Trooper Mason subdued Shaw on the ground, handcuffed him, and placed him under arrest. Shaw remained combative throughout the arrest process and threatened to kill everyone at the scene.

         The State charged Shaw with first-degree felony assault of the parishioner, felony attempted child kidnapping, and felony resisting arrest. His case proceeded to a bench trial. During the trial, the State called Trooper Mason to testify. The State asked Trooper Mason why he arrested Shaw. The trooper responded he arrested Shaw "for an attempted assault on me."

         Shaw moved for judgment of acquittal on all counts at the close of the State's evidence. The circuit court heard arguments and concluded the State failed to present sufficient evidence on the attempted kidnapping count and accordingly sustained Shaw's motion as to that count. The circuit court overruled Shaw's motion as to the other counts and subsequently found Shaw guilty of assault in the first degree and felony resisting arrest. The circuit court sentenced Shaw to consecutive sentences of ten years' imprisonment for first-degree assault and three years' imprisonment for felony resisting arrest. Shaw timely appealed his felony resisting arrest conviction. This Court granted transfer after opinion by the court of appeals.[2]

         Standard of Review

         Because Shaw challenges the sufficiency of the evidence presented at trial, this Court must be mindful of and take care to apply the relevant standard of review. When reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence, the standard of review on appeal from a bench- tried case is the same as the standard used on appeal of a case tried to a jury. State v. Sladek, 835 S.W.2d 308, 310 (Mo. banc 1992). "To determine whether the evidence presented was sufficient to support a conviction . . ., this Court does not weigh the evidence but rather accept[s] as true all evidence tending to prove guilt together with all reasonable inferences that support the verdict." State v. Clark, 490 S.W.3d 704, 707 (Mo. banc 2016) (alteration in original). The Court will "ignore all contrary evidence and inferences." State v. Latall, 271 S.W.3d 561, 566 (Mo. banc 2008). "Evidence is sufficient to support a conviction when there is sufficient evidence from which a reasonable [fact-finder] might have found the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt." Clark, 490 S.W.3d at 707 (quotation omitted).

         Analysis

         Shaw argues the circuit court erred in overruling his motion for judgment of acquittal on the felony resisting arrest count because there was insufficient evidence presented to support a finding of guilt.[3] Shaw contends the State failed to carry its burden on the felony resisting arrest count because there was insufficient evidence to establish Trooper Mason subjectively contemplated arresting Shaw for a felony offense at the time of the arrest. But Shaw's argument lacks merit, as the relevant inquiry is not whether Trooper Mason subjectively contemplated arresting Shaw for a felony offense. Rather, the relevant inquiries turn on whether the State presented sufficient evidence that Shaw resisted arrest for an offense and whether that offense objectively constitutes a felony as a matter of law. § 575.150.1. Because the State presented evidence to support a finding beyond a reasonable doubt that Shaw resisted arrest for an offense, the State presented sufficient evidence to support Shaw's felony resisting arrest conviction. Moreover, the offense for which Shaw resisted arrest constitutes a felony as a matter of law; therefore, the circuit court did not err in finding Shaw guilty of felony resisting arrest pursuant to § 575.150.5(1).

         I. The resisting arrest statute

         Under § 575.150.1, a person commits the offense of resisting arrest if:

(1) he knew or reasonably should have known that a law enforcement officer was making an arrest; (2) he resisted that arrest by using or threatening to use violence or physical force or by fleeing from the officer; and (3) he did so for the purpose of preventing the officer from completing the arrest.

State v. Pierce, 433 S.W.3d 424, 434 (Mo. banc 2014). The offense of resisting arrest can be either a felony or misdemeanor. State v. Furne, 642 S.W.2d 614, 616 (Mo. banc 1982) (applying a similar, former version of § 575.150). Of specific relevance to this case, § 575.150.5(1) enhances the offense of resisting arrest from a misdemeanor to a felony if the person is "[r]esisting . . . an arrest … for a . . . [f]elony." (Emphasis added).[4] This provision requires the State to establish the arrest initiated by the arresting officer and resisted by the defendant was "for a felony." This Court, therefore, must discern the meaning of the phrase "for a felony" to determine whether sufficient evidence was presented to support a felony resisting arrest conviction under § 575.150.5(1).

         A. The term "felony" as used in § 575.150.5(1) means an offense that legally constitutes a felony

         To determine the meaning of the phrase "for a felony," the Court must first determine the meaning of the term "felony." A felony is a type of criminal offense. See § 556.016.1, RSMo 2000 (providing criminal offenses "defined by this code or by any other statute of this state . . . are classified as felonies and misdemeanors").[5] All criminal offenses in Missouri are creatures of statute. See §556.026, RSMo 2000 ("No conduct constitutes an offense unless made so by this code or by other applicable statute.").[6] Because felonies are a type of criminal offense, felonies exist only by operation of statute. Some felonies are expressly designated felonies by the statute creating and defining the offense. See § 565.081.7 (providing the offense assault of a law enforcement officer in the first degree is a "class A felony"). Other felonies are not specifically denominated felonies but nevertheless constitute felonies by operation of the authorized range of punishment provided by statute for that offense.[7] See § 556.016.2, RSMo 2000 (providing an offense is a "felony" if "persons convicted thereof may be sentenced to death or imprisonment for a term which is in excess of one year").[8]

         Regardless of whether a felony is designated as such expressly by statute or by operation of the statutorily authorized punishment for the offense, determining whether a criminal offense is actually a felony under Missouri law requires reading and interpreting one or more statutes. Issues of statutory interpretation are questions of law. Middleton v. Mo. Dep't of Corrections, 278 S.W.3d 193, 195 (Mo. banc 2009). Determining whether a particular offense is a felony is purely a question of law, and the term "felony" as used in § 575.150.5(1) means an offense that constitutes a felony as a matter of law.

         B. The term "for" as used in § 575.150.5(1) means "because of" or "on account of"

         The Court must next discern what it means to resist an arrest "for" a felony. There is no statutory definition for the term "for" as used in the phrase "for a felony" in § 575.150.5(1). When a term is not defined by statute, this Court will give the term its "plain and ordinary meaning as derived from the dictionary." Mo. Pub. Serv. Comm'n v.Union Elec. Co., 552 S.W.3d 532, 541 (Mo. banc 2018). Webster defines the word "for" to mean, in relevant part, "because of" and "on account of." Webster's New Int'l Dictionary 886 (3d ed. 2002). This common meaning indicates ยง 575.150.5(1) requires there to ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.