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Overview of the Missouri Court System

There are four courts in Missouri, and they represent a four-tiered judicial system. At the bottom of the system are the municipal courts, followed by the circuit courts and then the Court of Appeals, and the Missouri Supreme Court occupies the top tier. As in other states, cases enter at one of the lower two courts and may be appealed all the way to the Supreme Court.

The municipal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction: Only traffic violations, petty criminal offenses and city code violations are heard by the these courts, which typically don't have jury trials. The next tier of courts is made up of the circuit courts, which handle most types of cases, including all civil and criminal cases, family law issues and juvenile cases. They may also hear appeals of decisions made by the municipal courts.

One tier above the circuit courts is the Court of Appeals. If either party is dissatisfied with a legal verdict given in the circuit courts, they may appeal the decision to the Court of Appeals. If parties remain dissatisfied with verdict from the Court of Appeals and feel that a verdict violates court procedures or the Missouri State Constitution, they may appeal the case directly to the Missouri Supreme Court. As the court of last resort in the state, the Supreme Court has the final say.

Missouri Attorneys and Lawyers

When faced with a legal issue, contacting an experienced attorney is always the best bet. At LawInfo you can search for a skilled, Lead Counsel Rated Missouri attorney by location and by practice area. We have Missouri attorneys who dedicate their practice to specific areas of the law, so you will not only find an attorney, but an attorney who is knowledgeable to help you with your particular legal issue.

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Missouri Legal Forms

LawInfo offers free Missouri legal forms and documents to help resolve many of your issues on your own. Whether you need a power of attorney or you want to complete your will, we have you covered. You can click on our most popular forms located in the right column of this page. A user account is required to use the service, but it’s completely free.

In order to safeguard yourself and your property as a landlord, you may want to consider using a Missouri Residential Lease Agreement to set responsibilities in writing. Renting can be a sound financial decision, and you need to take prudent legal actions. Your real estate is likely among the most expensive assets you own, and a legally binding agreement can save a lot of inconvenience in the long run if something ever happens.

LawInfo provides free Last Will and Testament documents to protect you and your possessions. A last will can ensure that your belongings are divided up among your loved ones according to your wishes rather than according to the will of the courts. Dying "intestate," or without a will, can cause inconvenience for your family as the courts divide up your things not in accordance with what you would have wanted. A Last Will and Testament can fix that potential problem.

You can find free Power of Attorney documents on LawInfo too. These documents enable you to choose someone to make decisions for you regarding important legal, medical and financial issues. An accident or medical emergency can happen at any time, so it is better to be proactive and file your Power of Attorney documents as soon as possible so you can have it squared away in the event of an unexpected situation.

Starting a Missouri Business

Developing a solid business plan is the first step for prospective Missouri business owners. Starting a business is exciting but risky, so you want to write out a sound plan so you don't steer your company in the wrong direction. Your plan should include information about budgeting and marketing as well as production and your unique sales niche. The Missouri Small Business and Technology Development Centers website can lead you to plenty of statewide resources to help you achieve your dream.

If you feel good about your business plan, the next step is to choose a business structure. Ideally, you want a structure for which the tax requirements, personal liability levels and regulatory issues are acceptable for your plan. For business owners who don't want to pay as many taxes and are less concerned about financial liabilities, a sole proprietorship may be the best option. A corporation demands a little more paperwork and higher taxes, but it protects your personal finances if your business doesn't work out.

Missouri Business Statistics

About 48.4 percent of the Missouri private-sector workforce is employed by small businesses. The state's unemployment rate kept pace with the national average, hovering around 7 percent through 2013. Missouri is home to more than 500,000 small businesses, accounting for 97.6 percent of the state's employers. The state's real GDP grew on pace with the rest of the country at about 2.5 percent in 2011. In addition to the sizable quantity of small businesses, there are nearly 2,800 large employers in Missouri, including major Fortune 500 companies like Express Scripts Holding (ESRX), Emerson Electric (EMR) and Monsanto (MON).