In Missouri, the prosecuting attorney serves as the chief law enforcement officer of the county. The prosecutor's office holds the sole authority within the county to prosecute violations of state criminal laws. The office handles misdemeanors and felonies. Each county maintains a prosecuting attorney's office. Many prosecutors have a team that includes assistant prosecuting attorneys.
Some jurisdictions in Missouri, such as the cities of St. Louis and Jefferson City, call attorneys with similar responsibilities “city attorneys." Other states call attorneys with similar responsibilities “district attorneys."
When a crime is reported, law enforcement agencies conduct an investigation. The law enforcement agency submits its report to the prosecuting attorney. The prosecuting attorney reviews the report and decides whether to file criminal charges. Sometimes, the prosecutor will call for a grand jury investigation.
Prosecuting attorneys handle criminal cases ranging from:
- Traffic tickets
- Probation violation hearings
- Bad checks
- Enforcement of child support obligations
- Domestic violence
- Sexual assault
- First-degree murder
They also provide victim services. The attorneys meet with crime victims to ensure they understand the prosecution process.
Prosecutors don't give the general public legal advice.
Prosecuting attorneys also make and coordinate plea bargains. Depending on the nature of your case and the charges against you, you may want to speak with the prosecuting attorney in your county.
You should seek the legal assistance of a criminal defense attorney before contacting the prosecutor's office. If you talk to the prosecutor on your own, you might make statements damaging to your criminal case. A defense lawyer has experience dealing with the prosecutor's office and knows how to present your case in the best light.
If you need an attorney and can't afford to hire one, you can contact a Missouri public defender (P.D.). They provide legal advocacy for clients with state criminal matters.
Missouri state law requires that they charge a fee. The fees range from $125 for misdemeanors to $1500 for a capital murder case. Juveniles aren't charged a fee. But according to the public defender's website, a client will not be denied legal representation because of an inability to pay.
You can apply for a public defender online or at a local P.D. office.
Clients are often skeptical of the legal help that public defenders can provide. Public defenders are licensed by the state of Missouri. They are members of the Missouri State Bar Association. Most P.D.s also are experienced criminal defense attorneys.
If your legal issue involves federal criminal charges, you can contact a federal public defender. They provide legal services to individuals with criminal cases who can't afford to hire an attorney. The federal court determines eligibility.
If you need help with a civil case and cannot afford an attorney, you can contact Legal Services of Missouri.
Missouri Attorney General
While the prosecuting attorney is the chief legal enforcement officer for the county, the Missouri Attorney General (A.G.) is the chief legal officer for the state. The A.G. has a broad range of responsibilities. The Attorney General's office:
- Defends state laws and represents Missouri in state or federal court
- Provides legal opinions to state agencies and officials
- Protects consumers by investigating and prosecuting fraudulent activities by businesses
- Champions civil rights
Directory of Missouri Prosecuting Attorneys
Missouri has 115 elected prosecutors, one for each of its 114 counties and the city of St. Louis (a separate jurisdiction from St. Louis County). The following links provide contact information for the prosecuting attorney in your county.
Note: Although we strive to provide the most current contact and website information available for the D.A. offices in this state, this information is subject to change. If you have found contact or website information that is not current, please contact us.
Charged With a Crime? Get in Touch With a Missouri Defense Attorney
Criminal charges can be overwhelming. If you're facing fines or prison time in Missouri, consult with a legal professional. Get started today and speak with an experienced Missouri criminal defense attorney near you.