Missouri Public Records
There are a variety of reasons someone might want to access public records in Missouri ranging from tracing their family tree to locating an inmate and everything in between.
As you may have found searching—or finding—public records isn’t always easy. Sometimes, the information you want is handled by different departments or, due to exclusions, isn’t available to the public at all.
Luckily, Missouri has something called the Missouri Sunshine Law, which aims for transparency from public agencies and provides relatively few exemptions (compared to other states) to your right to access public records.
To assist you in tracking down specific public records in the (somewhat aptly named) “Show-Me State,” we’ve put together a guide to finding criminal, court, inmate and vital records in Missouri.
Table of Contents
- 1 What does the Missouri public records law say?
- 2 How can a person access public records in Missouri?
- 3 Missouri criminal records
- 4 Missouri inmate records
- 5 Missouri court records
- 6 Missouri vital records
- 7 Frequently asked questions about Missouri records
- 7.1 Can a request be submitted by non-residents of the state?
- 7.2 Is there a records custodian in Missouri?
- 7.3 What exemptions exist?
- 7.4 How long does that state have to respond?
- 7.5 Are property records public?
- 7.6 Is there an appeals process?
- 7.7 What fees are associated with requesting public records?
What does the Missouri public records law say?
After the Freedom of Information Act was passed, Missouri became one of the first states to create its own open records act. The Missouri Sunshine Law requires that “meetings, records, votes, action, and deliberations of public governmental bodies are to be open to the public.” Documents can be requested by anyone and you’re not required to explain why you want them.
How can a person access public records in Missouri?
The National Freedom of Information Coalition provides a sample records request letter that anyone can use and submit to a record-holding department—typically by mail, fax or email.
This template requires some important pieces of information:
- Your name, mailing address and phone number
- A detailed description of the record (or information) you are seeking
- A paragraph about fees (with a request to waive the fees if you’re a member of the media). You may need to research fees and include a check for the amount listed on the specific agency’s website.
- A request to have the agency contact if the record response will take more than the three-day requirement
- In the case of a denial to provide the record, a request to cite the exemption
Missouri criminal records
Of all the states to help you find criminal records, Missouri is one of the best in terms of accessibility, ease and cost. Whether you’re an employer needing to do a background check on a potential employee or just checking to ensure that a creepy volunteer at your school’s bake sale doesn’t have a criminal history, you’ve got options to do some basic research. The following information can help you access basic criminal records in Missouri or, in some cases, do a full-on fingerprint-based search.
What’s on a criminal record?
Sometimes called a “rap sheet,” a criminal record is a summary of someone’s criminal history. These records are prepared by state and local law enforcement agencies, detention facilities and courts. In Missouri, the document will list the person’s interactions with the law, and the following information will be provided to you:
- The name of the person, as well as any known aliases
- Personal information (e.g., date of birth, race and sex)
- A mugshot
- Current and previous indictments
- Arrest reports, including outstanding warrants
- Conviction records
Where can a person find Missouri criminal records?
The Missouri State Highway Patrol’s Criminal Justice Information Services Division serves as the custodian of criminal history information for the state. The Missouri Automated Criminal History Site (MACHS) provides two portals: one for searching criminal history by name and one for searching by fingerprint.
The name-based search can help anyone find public records. It’s less formal (and less accurate) than a fingerprint check, but it will provide you with information on any or all of the following:
- Arrests within 30 days
- pending charges
- Suspended imposition of sentences during probation
- Sex offenses, even if the offense occurred out of state
The State of Missouri’s fingerprinting services vendor is IDEMIA, which operates IdentoGO centers throughout the state. How does the service work? Anyone needing to be fingerprinted for a State or FBI criminal background check must provide a registration number from their employer or licensing agency. Fingerprint-based background checks are considered proof of identity. Although results vary based on the purpose of a background search via fingerprint, results may include open records, closed records and FBI information.
A name-based search is $14 plus any additional processing fees. For an additional $2, you can get a document notarized.
Missouri inmate records
The Missouri Department of Corrections supervises 27,000 people in 22 institutional facilities, as well as another 62,000 who are on probation and parole.
What’s on an inmate record?
You can obtain information on any Missouri inmate who is currently incarcerated, under post-incarceration supervision or who has been discharged from a sentence. You can’t, however, use the state’s database to get information on inmates sent to Missouri under the provisions of the interstate compact agreement. Public information on inmates includes:
- Name and aliases
- Age, sex, race
- Date of Birth
- Height and weight
- DOC ID
- Booking photo
- Assigned location
- Sentence summary
- Active and completed offenses
Where can a person find Missouri inmate records?
Missouri Department of Corrections hosts a dedicated web portal for the public to search for offenders under its supervision. This includes active offenders, probationers and parolees, but does not include information on discharged offenders.
The portal lets you search by Department of Corrections (DOC) ID or first/last name.
Missouri court records
With a few exceptions, court records are available for the public to search and view and provide detailed case information. The information in the database is gathered from the Missouri Supreme Court, Eastern Appellate, Southern Appellate, Western Appellate and individual circuit courts.
What’s on a court record?
Court records show the following information:
- Civil cases: attorneys’ names and address; future pending calendar dates; case number and type; year of birth; disposition type; docket entries; file date; garnishments or executions; trial judge assigned and at disposition; judgment/appellate decision and date; party name, address and type; satisfaction of judgment; changes of venue information
- Paternity cases: attorneys’ names and addresses; party name and type; judgments
- Criminal cases: attorney and defendant name and address; bond amount; future pending calendar dates; case number and type; charges; year of birth; defendant name/address; disposition type; docket entries; file and disposition date; judgment and judgment date; law enforcement agency; offense cycle number; sentence and sentence date; trial judge/commissioner assigned and at disposition; violation code, date and description
- Adult and child protection order cases: similar to civil cases if a judgment for full order is entered, but without showing the petitioner’s name, address or other identifying information
Where can a person find Missouri court records?
- Resource: Missouri CaseNet
The Missouri state courts provide an automated case management system called Case.net that lets anyone search for information on docket entries, parties, judgments and charges in public court.
There are a variety of search methods that you can use to find the information you need in the database, including:
- Litigant name
- Filing date
- Case number
- Schedule hearings/trials (this includes searching by judge/commissioner or attorney)
- Judgment index
- Pay By Web (to pay court costs and fees online)
Missouri vital records
Missouri’s Department of Health & Senior Services keeps vital records for the state. These are not open to the general public but rather copies are provided to specifically defined entities or individuals to prevent fraud, protect identities, and preserve the integrity of the records. Only people with a “direct and tangible interest” in the record can receive a certified copy of a vital record in Missouri.
In Missouri, vital records include birth and death records; marriage licenses and divorce licenses; original pre-adoptive birth certificates; fetal death/certificate of stillbirth; and statement of single status.
What information is needed to request a vital record?
Depending on the type of vital record you’re requesting and how it’s being requested (i.e., mail, in person, online or by phone), be prepared to provide the following information:
- A primary document (e.g., state-issued driver’s license or ID card, passport or military ID)
- The date of the birth, death, marriage, divorce, etc.
- The full name of the person whose record you are requesting, including maiden names
- Your interest in obtaining the vital record
Where can a person find Missouri vital records?
- Resource: Missouri Vital Statistics VitalChek
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior services uses VitalChek to fulfill online and phone orders for vital records. VitalChek is able to verify an identity electronically by using a public records search function.
Although it’s possible to request certified copies in person at your local health department or from the Department of Health and Senior Services in Jefferson City, you should call first to ensure the office is open and accepting appointments during COVID-19.
Frequently asked questions about Missouri records
Missouri may be one of the most impressive states in terms of ease of access to public records. With that said, you may still have questions. Here are a few of the FAQs people have:
Can a request be submitted by non-residents of the state?
Yes. Whether you live in St. Louis, Kansas City or New York City, you can request records in Missouri.
While many records are open to the general public, some vital records have limits on who can request certificates based on their purpose or relationship to the record-holder.
Is there a records custodian in Missouri?
According to the Missouri Secretary of State, each one of the government agencies appoints its own custodian.
What exemptions exist?
There are some exemptions to accessing public records. The Digital Media Law Project lists them here.
How long does that state have to respond?
The Missouri Sunshine Law gives the state three days to respond to a request.
Are property records public?
Yes. To access real estate records, speak with the Recorder of Deeds in your county. In some counties, the Recorder of Deeds offers a searchable database like this one in Jackson County.
Is there an appeals process?
You can sue a public body within one year of being denied access to a public record.
What fees are associated with requesting public records?
A public body may charge $.10/page for copies and possibly research time or the hourly rate to pay clerical staff for their time.