Where to Find Missouri Civil Court Records
Missouri civil court records are documents and files generated during civil court proceedings in the state. Civil lawsuits aim to resolve disputes between individuals, businesses, organizations, and institutions. These cases begin when a party/plaintiff files a complaint against another person or entity—the defendant. Records generated during civil proceedings can include transcripts, summons or proof of service, motions, petitions, etc. Typically, civil court records are maintained by individual Missouri courts and are available to members of the public on request. Also, Missouri.CourtRecords.Org offers an alternative for remotely retrieving civil court records.
Are Missouri Civil Court Records Public?
Missouri Civil Court records are public records unless exempted or sealed by law. The .Missouri Sunshine Law affords members of the public the right to access public records maintained by state agencies.
Types of Cases in Missouri Civil Courts
Civil courts in Missouri handle cases of civil disputes relating to;
- Housing; such as foreclosure and eviction claims
- Contract disputes involving breach of contract claims
- Issues concerning money and debt recovery
- Tort claims such as personal injuries from auto accidents, medical malpractice, or negligence
- Family/domestic disputes involving marriage and children such as marriage dissolution, divorces, annulments, guardianship, child custody, and support.
- Infringement of Copyright
- Property disputes of land ownership or property lines.
- Tort Cases
- Small Claims
Missouri courts also hear cases of civil disputes between individuals and the government, such as:
- Social security and supplemental security income (SSI) benefits
- Denial of public benefits such as Medicaid
- Civil rights violations
What is the Difference Between Criminal Cases and Civil Cases in Missouri?
Missouri Civil litigations differ from criminal cases in the following ways;
- Aim:Civil cases in Missouri are brought up by individuals seeking to enforce certain obligations such as monetary compensation or property recovery. While criminal cases are instituted by the state government to enforce public codes of behavior and punish criminals.
- State Rules and Codes: Civil cases in Missouri Courts are governed by the State's rules of Civil procedure and Criminal cases are governed by the State's Rules of Criminal procedure.
- Resolution: Civil disputes are resolved by financial settlements or other civil enforcements while criminal proceedings are usually resolved with incarceration, considerable fine payments, or probation.
- Standard of proof:In civil cases, the standard of proof is based on the "preponderance of evidence" while prosecutors are tasked with proving criminal cases beyond a reasonable doubt.
How Do I Find Civil Court Records In Missouri?
Civil court records are created and maintained by court clerks in Missouri Courts, where the case of interest was heard. These records, according to state laws, are available on request. Depending on the county where the case was heard, there may be multiple options on how to request these records.
Generally, the steps to finding civil court records in Missouri include:
Locate the right court:
Courts with jurisdiction over civil cases in Missouri include circuit court, associate circuit, family court, juvenile court, probate court, small claims court, municipal court, and traffic court. The court where a civil complaint will be filed depends on the amount in controversy. For instance, cases involving less than $5000 in damages are filed with the small claims court or domestic disputes with the family court division. Since these records are maintained by the courts that heard the case, persons looking for specific civil court records are required to find the right court. Court locations, addresses, individual websites, and other relevant court information can be found on the State's judicial website.
Mode of request
From the website provided for each court, inquirers may be able to tell what modes of request are acceptable in the court of interest, such as telephone orders, mail, e-mail, fax, in-person requests, etc. These courts usually require some information to be able to meet requests for records, such as the date of the court proceeding or the date the complaint was filed and information on the plaintiff, case file number if known, the defendant, and representing attorneys.
This information will be required irrespective of the mode of request, and the inquirer will be expected to provide them along with the applicable fees if there are any.
NB: Some courts within the state may not provide the required information and steps to requesting court records on the website or even have a website at all. In this case, the inquirer is advised to contact the court with the provided contact information to inquire about the process involved or visit the court to make the requests directly.
How Do I Find Civil Court Records Online?
Missouri courts store many of their cases online through a case search portal and management system known as Case.Net. Through this platform, inquirers can find court records such as docket entries, judgments, etc.
Searches on the platform can be done with any or all of the following:
- Litigant's name search
- Filing date search
- Case number search
- Scheduled hearings/trials search
- Judgment index
The platform also allows electronic payments and e-filing. However, this platform can only be used to access civil court records of courts that have implemented the software.
What Is Included In a Missouri Civil Court Record?
Civil court records generally contain all documents generated during the court proceedings and hearing of a case. These may include;
- The complaint filed by the plaintiff contained details of the allegations, the defendant's actions, and requested compensation.
- Details of the representing attorneys if there are any.
- Separation agreements with details of alimony and child support if the case is a divorce.
- Details of arbitrations, depositions, and interviews done under oath.
- Judgment or verdict with details of the outcome of the case, etc.
How to Access Missouri Civil Court Records For Free
Records available to be inspected electronically are usually free. However, if the inquirer seeks to make copies, the court is allowed by state laws to charge a fee.
Hence, some courts in the state provide access to court records on their websites, while others directly use Case.Net. Records on these platforms can be accessed and inspected for free.
The state also provides Historic court records to members of the public through Missouri State Archives Missouri's Judicial Records. These records are also accessible for free.
According to state laws, civil court records containing sensitive information or information generally exempted by law will not be displayed on these platforms.
How to Seal Civil Court Records in Missouri
Sealing civil records in Missouri means removing details and files of a specific case from a general review. This restricts the public's access to the case file. However, it can still be accessed by law enforcement agencies.
Court records in the state can only be sealed by court order, but only when there is a compelling justification or reason to do so.
- To have a record sealed in Missouri, a petition has to be filed using the provided forms to petition in Missouri Courts.
- This petition must be filed in the circuit court where the case was heard. It must contain details of why restricting public access to the case file is justifiable and that the court's order to seal the records will not affect or harm the other parties in the case.
- The court clerk will notify the other parties in the case of the petition to seal the records. If the parties agree, no hearing is necessary.
- If a hearing is necessary, the petition will be examined by the judge, along with provided evidence and testimony. The petition will be granted only if the reasons provided are identified as "specific and tangible threats to important values".
Also, the court may automatically issue an order to seal certain documents if the details of the document fulfill any provisions in the court operating rules for "confidential records".
How to Access Sealed Civil Court Records in Missouri
Sealed records can only be accessed via a formal court order. The process of accessing sealed court records is similar to that of getting the records sealed. The individual interested in accessing the record must petition or challenge the court with justifiable reasons to view the sealed records with evidence and testimony that the action will harm no party involved in the case.