The Public Safety Section is part of the Criminal Litigation Division and works extensively with local prosecutors and State and Federal law enforcement agencies. The Section consists of the Special Prosecutions Unit, Habeas Unit, Sexually Violent Predator Unit (SVP), and Victim Services and Legal Support Unit.

The Special Prosecutions Unit is involved in a wide range of criminal prosecutions at the investigation and trial level throughout Missouri, many of them homicide cases, child sexual abuse cases, and assault cases. The Unit’s attorneys are appointed to assist in serious or complex prosecutions at the request of a local prosecutor and by direction of the Governor, pursuant to Section 27.030, RSMo, or are appointed as special prosecutors by a court when local prosecutors have a conflict of interest, under Section 56.110, RSMo. Additional responsibilities of the Unit includes representing the Missouri State Highway Patrol in civil actions taken by persons seeking to remove themselves from the Missouri Sex Offender Registry (SORA) and investigating and prosecuting corruption by public officials as part of the Attorney General’s Public Corruption Team.

The Habeas Unit defends the State in habeas corpus actions filed by inmates in state prisons. The actions, filed in the State or Federal courts, challenge the fact or length of confinement or the imposition of the death penalty. The Unit also defends other civil suits such as declaratory judgment actions and civil rights suits that challenge the length or duration of confinement of Missouri prison inmates or that may impact the imposition of the death penalty. Each year the Unit litigates hundreds of Federal habeas corpus actions in the Federal district courts, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court, as well as State habeas claims in Circuit Courts, the Missouri Court of Appeals, and the Missouri Supreme Court.

The Sexually Violent Predator (SVP) Unit seeks the civil commitment of sexual predators who suffer from a mental abnormality making them more likely than not to commit additional predatory acts of sexual violence. The Unit defends the State when these committed individuals file a petition for release or when released individuals violate their release conditions and the State seeks to have them returned to the Department of Mental Health.

The Victim Services and Legal Support Unit provides assistance to crime victims to help them understand their options, minimize their trauma, and stabilize their lives. Advocates conduct home visits, accompany victims to court, and help victims obtain compensation and other support as needed. They also ensure the rights of crime victims are honored, that State and Federal laws regarding victims’ rights are followed, as well as see that they have a strong voice in the criminal justice system. Advocates often remain in contact with victim’s in many cases to keep them informed of direct appeals, post-conviction appeals, and habeas actions. The Unit’s legal assistants and paralegals provide investigative and legal support services to investigators and attorneys in all units of the Public Safety Section.

The Public Safety Section is headquartered in Jefferson City and has regional offices in Kansas City, St. Louis and Springfield.

Frequently Asked Questions