The Circuit Courts in Missouri are the general jurisdiction trial courts for the state. They resolve both criminal and civil matters. The state has 46 judicial districts with at least one Circuit Court in each county. Missouri has 415 judges and commissioners throughout the state. Most judges are elected through non-partisan elections in each county. There are 142 circuit judges, 202 associate circuit judges, and 33 commissioners and deputy commissioners. Terms of office vary by county, but all Circuit Court judges must retire at age 70.
Circuit Courts are split into divisions like the associate circuit, small claims, municipal, family, probate, criminal and juvenile. Most all cases are resolved in Circuit Courts, and they offer both jury trials and cases heard by a judge.
Additionally, the state has instituted problem-solving courts with specific areas of expertise. The goals of these courts are to fix the problem rather than serve justice.
Juvenile Courts address issues of delinquency, child abuse, and neglect, adoption, parental rights, child custody, and paternity. Family Courts are tied in with these and handle divorces, domestic violence, and other family issues. These courts offer parenting classes, mediation, counseling, and other social services.
Drug and DUI Courts help with the treatment and rehabilitation of habitual offenders due to addictions. Instead of just punishment, they encourage substance abuse treatment programs and healthy lifestyle changes. These courts also mandate drug testing and follow-up to help keep offenders on the right path.
Missouri's Veteran's Court help with "substance use disorder, serious mental illness and/or co-occurring disorders" related to military service. These courts work closely with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs health care networks, and the Veterans' Benefits Administration to promote sobriety, recovery, and stability.
Missouri is committed to solving problems with these additional courts to reduce the need for litigation and punishment.