State ex rel. Westfall v. Ruddy

Decision Date23 July 1981
Docket NumberNo. 61958,61958
Citation621 S.W.2d 42
PartiesSTATE of Missouri ex rel. George R. "Buzz" WESTFALL, Prosecuting Attorney of St. Louis County, Missouri, Relator, v. The Honorable James RUDDY, Judge, Twenty-First Judicial Circuit, St. Louis County, Missouri, Respondent.
CourtMissouri Supreme Court

Ann Fran Carpini, Asst. Pros. Atty., Clayton, for relator.

Robert Cosentino, Asst. Public Defender, Clayton, for respondent.

John Ashcroft, Atty. Gen., Steven W. Garrett, Asst. Atty. Gen., Jefferson City, amicus curiae.



Relator, prosecuting attorney of St. Louis County, filed a two-count information charging Randy Elva Keyes in count one with robbery second degree (§ 569.030) and in count two with armed criminal action (§ 571.015), in that Keyes and another used a gun to commit the robbery alleged in count one. The offenses were committed on June 25, 1979, all as one transaction or occurrence. The information was amended to also charge Keyes with being a dangerous offender (§ 558.016), but that charge is not of consequence in this prohibition proceeding.

Prior to trial date, defendant Keyes moved to dismiss count two, armed criminal action. The respondent judge sustained that motion on the ground that the state could not proceed on both counts because, under Sours v. State, 593 S.W.2d 208 (Mo.banc 1980) (Sours I), the charge of armed criminal action violated the double jeopardy provision of Amendment Five of the United States Constitution when filed along with the additional charge of robbery second degree. 1 See also Sours v. State, 603 S.W.2d 592 (Mo.banc 1980) (Sours II). The order to proceed on count one, robbery second degree, is simply consequential to the dismissal of count two. The state, however, contends that, assuming both cannot be prosecuted in the same case, the prosecutor, and not the court has the right to decide which count should proceed.

The briefs in this case, in substantial portion, are devoted to issues similar to those which were the subject of Sours I and II and which are involved in the case of State v. Haggard, 619 S.W.2d 44 (Mo.banc 1981) (decided July 14, 1981). Those issues directly relate to constitutional considerations of whether or not a person may be convicted of the crime of armed criminal action and the underlying felony and be punished for each offense separately. Haggard was reheard by this Court in order to consider those constitutional issues in the light of Albernaz v. United States, 450 U.S. ----, 101 S.Ct. 1137, 67 L.Ed. 275 (1981). Additionally, as per the orders of the United States Supreme Court, a number of cases decided by the Districts of the Missouri Court of Appeals were also under consideration on this issue and were decided concurrently with State v. Haggard, supra.

The specific issue in this proceeding is whether or not the state may charge armed criminal action and the underlying felony and try both charges in one case.

It is noted that the crimes alleged in this case were committed after January 1, 1979.

The crime of robbery in the second degree is defined by § 569.030, RSMo 1978, as follows: "1. A person commits the crime of robbery in the second degree when he forcibly steals property.

"2. Robbery in the second degree is a class B felony."

A class B felony is punishable by "a term of years not less than five years and not to exceed fifteen years;" § 558.011.1(2), RSMo 1978. This range includes both prison and conditional release terms. See §§ 558.011.1 and 558.011.4(2), RSMo 1978.

The crime of armed criminal action is now defined by § 571.015. Armed criminal action can be broken down into two components: (1) the commission of any felony, (2) "by, with, or through the use, assistance, or aid of a dangerous instrument or deadly weapon." The crime is punishable by a term of imprisonment, for the first offense, of not less than three years (three years to life imprisonment) and the person convicted is not eligible for parole, probation, or suspended imposition or execution of sentence for a period of three calendar years. § 571.015.1, RSMo 1978. Both the original 1976 act (559.225, RSMo Supp.1976) and the reenactment in 1977 (571.015, RSMo 1978) of armed criminal action are essentially the same. The 1978 act is part of the criminal code. S.B. 60, Laws of Mo.1977, p. 658, et seq. Originally, and as reenacted, the armed criminal action statute also provided, "The punishment imposed pursuant to this subsection shall be in addition to any punishment provided by law for the crime committed by, with or through the use, assistance, or aid of a dangerous instrument or deadly weapon." The second offense of armed criminal action is punishable by imprisonment from five years to life with no probation, etc., for five calendar years and the third and subsequent offenses are punishable by imprisonment from ten years to life with no probation, etc., for ten calendar years. § 571.015.2 and .3, RSMo 1978.

One might illustrate these two crimes (robbery second degree and armed criminal action) with the following equations:

Forcibly stealing property = robbery second degree = 5 to 15 years but probation, parole, etc., are available.

Forcibly stealing property with a gun = armed criminal action = 3 years to life (first offense) with no probation, parole, etc., for 3 years.

Obviously robbery second degree could be committed without using a deadly weapon and the range of punishment would be five to fifteen years. But, if robbery second degree is committed with the use of a deadly weapon, it becomes armed criminal action and subjects the perpetrator to the possibility of a substantially heavier penalty and a minimum period of incarceration before probation or parole is possible. And, as is evident in this case, it is impossible to commit armed criminal action without committing robbery in the second degree. Armed criminal action, in every case, requires the commission of an underlying felony.

In Sours v. State, 593 S.W.2d 208 (Mo.banc 1980) (Sours I), vacated and remanded sub nom. Missouri v. Sours, 446 U.S. 962, 100 S.Ct. 2935, 64 L.Ed.2d 820 (1980), and Sours v. State, 603 S.W.2d 592 (Mo.banc 1980) (Sours II), this Court held it a violation of the double jeopardy provisions of the United States Constitution to convict and sentence a defendant for both robbery first degree and armed criminal action. Sours II is reaffirmed in State v. Haggard, supra, and the constitutional issues which have been briefed in the instant case are resolved in Haggard and need not be further reviewed.

The offense which was the subject of Sours I and II was committed prior to January 1, 1979. The instant offense arose after January 1, 1979, and is therefore subject to the provisions of The Criminal Code. There is no doubt that the Missouri General Assembly intended and hoped that the substantially increased penalties imposed by the armed criminal action statute would deter or diminish the number of killings which, regrettably, have become commonplace when a weapon is used in the commission of a felony. This intention can be given effect by applying §§ 556.041 and 556.046 to this case. In this way the armed criminal action statute remains a viable part of our criminal law and is available to punish more severely those who use weapons to commit felonies.

Application of criminal code §§ 556.041(1) 2 and 556.046.1(1) 3 permits the prosecutor to charge a defendant, in separate counts, with both the underlying felony (here robbery in the second degree) and armed criminal action (robbery second degree with a gun) and, if the evidence supports both, to submit both felonies to the jury. If the jury determines a weapon was used to commit the underlying felony, it may convict of that offense (armed criminal action) and assess the more severe punishment as provided by the statute. This conviction obviously includes, as it necessarily requires, a finding that the defendant is guilty of robbery second degree. If the jury found no gun was used, it could still convict of the underlying felony. In this fashion, the prosecuting attorney has available the opportunity to obtain a conviction of the more severe crime of armed criminal action with its attendant increased penalties without losing the opportunity to obtain a conviction of the less severe underlying felony should the jury not believe the felony was committed with the use of a deadly weapon.

In State v. Upshaw, --- S.W.2d ---- (Mo.App.1981) (W.D.No.31443), and State v. Arnold, a case transferred after opinion by the Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District, now pending in this Court as No. 62999, the court of appeals rejected an argument that, under §§ 556.041(1) and 556.046.1(1), an accused could not be prosecuted and convicted of the underlying felony and armed criminal action. That holding was not necessary to the result because the court of appeals, in both instances, vacated the armed criminal action conviction and sentence under Sours I and II anyway.

The prosecution is not prohibited from charging and trying the defendant for armed criminal action and robbery second degree. Assuming that the evidence in the case supports both crimes, the court may instruct on both armed criminal action and the underlying felony; however, the jury may convict of only one of them pursuant to § 556.041(1). This means that the jury must be instructed that, while they are not required to convict of any offense, that these two offenses are submitted in the alternative and the jury may not convict the defendant of more than one of them.

The trial court was in error in ordering the dismissal of count two and directing that the trial proceed on the other count. Under this Court's holding in the instant case, the prosecution may prosecute for both crimes though the jury may convict of only one. As stated, since January 1, 1979, conviction for both crimes is prohibited by §§ 556.041(1...

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26 cases
  • State v. Thompson
    • United States
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    ... ... court somehow expressed doubt as to the legislative intent to punish for both crimes, State ex rel. Westfall v. Ruddy, 621 S.W.2d 42, 45 (Mo. banc 1981), the General Assembly immediately reacted in ... ...
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