Missouri Public Records

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What are Missouri Public Records, and How are They Created?

Missouri Public Records

Missouri's public records law is called the Missouri's Sunshine Law (Chapter 610 of the Revised Statutes of Missouri) and it governs public records and citizens' access to them. The Attorney General's Office is the government agent in charge of enforcing the Missouri Sunshine Law. The office states that "A lawsuit to enforce the Sunshine Law may be brought by any citizen, county prosecutor, or the Attorney General, in the circuit court of the county where the public governmental body has its principal place of business. Suit must be filed within one year from when the violation is ascertainable, and in no event later than two years after the violation occurred."

Missouri public records are created by all different types of government offices such as the courts, local and state police, the department of corrections, the Attorney General's Office, and Secretary of State, to name a few. Each of these agencies creates, stores, and shares public records. Although the Attorney General's Office handles disputes, you cannot request records through them. You must contact each public government body directly. Each agency has its own process and charges different fees for copies.

"The Sunshine Law applies to "public governmental bodies" – virtually all arms of state and local government, as well as "quasi-public governmental bodies," which are persons or corporations which, primarily, enter into contracts with public governmental bodies, accept public funds, or perform public functions. Subcommittees appointed to make recommendations to public bodies are also covered by the law. Each public governmental body must have a written Sunshine Law policy available to members of the public, and a Custodian of Records whose name is available to the public upon request."

According to Missouri's public records law, public record means "any record, whether written or electronically stored, retained by or of any public governmental body including any report, survey, memorandum, or other document or study prepared for the public governmental body by a consultant or other professional service paid for in whole or in part by public funds, including records created or maintained by private contractors under an agreement with a public governmental body or on behalf of a public governmental body; provided, however, that personally identifiable student records maintained by public educational institutions shall be open for inspection by the parents, guardian or other custodian of students under the age of eighteen years and by the parents, guardian or other custodian and the student if the student is over the age of eighteen years."

The Missouri State Archives is the government entity in charge of collecting, organizing, preserving, and storing historical public records for the state. Some of their collections include historical census records, county, and municipal records, land deeds, judicial court filings, legislative records, manuscript collections, military records, photographs, commemorative resources, historical memorabilia, state agency records, and government publications.The Secretary of State for Missouri oversees this agency.

 

How to Access Missouri Public Records?

How to Access Missouri Public Records

The Attorney General's Office has a sample letter you can use to request records from any of the government bodies. Each government public body has three days to furnish you with the records you request. Some general guidelines when requesting records are:

  • Visit the Attorney General's website.
  • Copy the sample form letter and customize it for your usage.
  • Drop it off or mail it to the appropriate government agency.
  • Await their response.

You may also call or email them with questions or to follow up on a previous request.

 

Different Types of Public Records in Missouri

Missouri Criminal Records

You can obtain Missouri criminal records pretty easily in one of two ways. First, the Missouri State Highway Patrol handles criminal background requests via fingerprints and name searches. They have an online system you can use, but you will have to pay a fee. The website is called the Missouri Automated Criminal History Site (MACHS) Name Search, or the MACHS Fingerprint Search Portal to search using fingerprint data. You can also use Missouri's Case.net website to search through court records and find criminal details and sentencing.

Some common types of criminal records in Missouri include (but are not limited to):

  • Felony and Misdemeanor Records - some common misdemeanors in Missouri are possession of 35g of marijuana or less, domestic assault, false imprisonment, shoplifting ($500 or less), and DWIs. Some popular felonies in Missouri are murder, first-degree kidnapping, forcible rape of a child, first-degree robbery, and drug crimes.
  • Jail and Inmate Records - both jails and prisons keep inmate records, and those too are public records.The Missouri Department of Corrections has an online search tool you can use to locate criminals and their records.
  • Police Records - local police can provide copies of incident reports, police reports, sometimes mugshots, and even crime scene photos upon request.

Missouri Court Records

Different Types of Public Records in Missouri

Missouri Courts are the judicial branch of government, and they create, store, and manage all Court records in Missouri. Many of their cases are stored online for easy access through their case search portal (Case.Net). You can search in a variety of ways quickly to find all information related to public records cases. They also allow e-filing, electronic payments, and jury responses online.

Some types of court records in Missouri are:

  • Civil Court Records - domestic relations cases such as divorces, marriages, paternity lawsuits, custody and child support cases, estates, conservatorships, wills, civil lawsuits, and small claims lawsuits.
  • Criminal Court Records - criminal filings for misdemeanors, felonies, and other citations. These may include things like trial paperwork, sentencing, prison transfers, and evidence related to the court case.
  • Financial Court Records - bankruptcies, liens, tax issues, company stock filings, and corporate financial reports.
  • Other Court Records - such as bench warrants, arrest warrants, judgments, traffic tickets and other traffic violations, and name changes.

The Missouri court system consists of four levels starting with the Supreme Court, then the Court of Appeals, Circuit Court, and finally Municipal Court.

Missouri Arrest Records

You can find Missouri arrest records in a few different places. First, the Missouri State Highway Patrol handles background checks and criminal history reports which will include arrest data. Additionally, the Missouri court's online search system will allow you to search for and find arrest information. Lastly, you can visit local or state police departments to request arrest records for recent crimes committed. The Missouri Department of Corrections also has an online portal where you can search for offenders. That, too, will provide you with arrest data.

Some different types of arrests records in Missouri are:

  • Drug charges.
  • Murder.
  • Shoplifting.
  • DWI.
  • Domestic abuse.
  • Petty theft.
  • DUIs.
  • Sexual abuse.
  • Booking details like fingerprints and mugshots.
  • Arrest warrants granted by a judge.
  • Bench warrants for not appearing in court.
  • Crime scene photos.
  • Witness statements.
  • Property crimes and accompanying paperwork.
  • Vehicle records if one was used during the crime.

Missouri Vital Records

Missouri's Department of Health and Senior Services is the government agency in charge of keeping, collecting, and issuing all vital records for the state. They issue copies of birth, death, fetal death, marriage, and divorce certificates upon request. They also maintain a putative father registry. You can obtain records in person or online using the VitalChek system. You must pay the appropriate fees when ordering copies. You can also download the forms, pay with a check, and order copies through the mail.

 

Other Public Records in Missouri

Other Public Records in Missouri

Along with criminal, court, arrest, and vital records, other types of public records you can find in the state of Missouri include, but are not limited to:

  • Government budgets and annual reports.
  • Driving records (without personally identifiable information).
  • Home addresses.
  • Maps, books, and tapes.
  • State health and wellness statistics.
  • Air and water quality (pollution reports).
  • Property records, real estate deals, and land deeds.
  • Home phone numbers.
  • Police and accident reports.
  • Liens & tax issues.
  • Company incorporation records.
  • Demographics.
  • Library Research.
  • Personnel records for state agencies.
  • Permits, licenses, and certifications.
  • Government employee salaries.
 

What Information is Not Public Record in Missouri?

According to Missouri's Sunshine Law, some records are not considered public records. In some cases, part of a record may not be shared with the general public. Some examples of exceptions to the Sunshine Law are:

  • "Sealed bids and related documents, until the bids are opened and sealed proposals and related documents or any documents related to a negotiated contract until a contract is executed, or all proposals are rejected.
  • Individually identifiable personnel records, performance ratings or records pertaining to employees or applicants for employment, except that this exemption shall not apply to the names, positions, salaries and lengths of service of officers and employees of public agencies once they are employed as such, and the names of private sources donating or contributing money to the salary of a chancellor or president at all public colleges and universities in the state of Missouri and the amount of money contributed by the source.
  • Records which are protected from disclosure by law.
  • Meetings and public records relating to scientific and technological innovations in which the owner has a proprietary interest.
  • Records relating to municipal hotlines established for the reporting of abuse and wrongdoing.
  • Confidential or privileged communications between a public governmental body and its auditor, including all auditor work product; however, all final audit reports issued by the auditor are to be considered open records pursuant to this chapter."