Many people in the state of Missouri get confused why we have a municipal court system and a state court system. Generally speaking, municipal courts operate to govern a city’s ordinance violations. Most cities in the St. Louis Metropolitan area have a municipal court. For example, Webster Groves, Arnold, Hazelwood, and Jennings among countless of others. Municipal courts have jurisdiction over misdemeanor cases, while felony cases are sent to state court. DWIs, MIPs, misdemeanor drug possession, and traffic citations are commonly dealt with in the municipal court system Felony cases such as robbery, sex offenses, burglary and murder are dealt with in the state court system, such as St. Louis Circuit Court or St. Louis County Circuit Court.
Besides the fact that misdemeanors and ordinance violations are usually dealt with in municipal court while felony cases are handled by the state court system, the other major difference is that in municipal court there is no right to a jury trial. However, a defendant wishing to have a jury trial on a municipal court case can request that the case be certified to the state court and then seek a jury trial. The other fundamental difference between the two court systems is the sentencing range. In most municipal courts, the longest sentence a defendant can received is typically 3 to 6 months, while the state court system has a much wider sentencing range which is determined by the classification of the felony. In Missouri, we have five classes of felonies with Class A being the most serious and Class E being the least serious.
At Henderson & Waterkotte, P.C., we have represented thousands of clients in municipal, state, and federal courts throughout Missouri and Illinois. If you or a loved one is facing a criminal charge, no matter what court it is in, contact our office today for a free consultation.