What are Missouri Criminal Court Records?
Missouri criminal court records refer to documented information relating to cases which are heard by the court. The information may include files, briefs, transcripts, pleadings, exhibits, motions, etc. The Clerk of the Court’s office is saddled with the responsibility of maintaining these records and allowing the public to access it. However, it is not part of the clerk’s role to review the personal information contained in the records. It is the duty of the Counsel or any person related to the case or preparation of the document.
Understanding the Missouri Criminal Court System
The Missouri court system is made up of three levels of the court known as the Supreme Court of Missouri, the Missouri Court of Appeals, and the Local Courts. The Local court is also known as the trial court, which is popularly called Circuit Courts, while the Missouri Court of Appeals serves as the state’s intermediate appellate court. Each court has a unique judicial function and is tasked with hearing felonies, misdemeanors or infractions depending on their jurisdiction.
Supreme Court of Missouri
The Supreme Court, which is the highest court in the state, has the ultimate authority over all levels of court, except for federal district courts which are responsible for hearing selected federal crimes. The court settles all disputes relating to the constitution and laws of Missouri ensuring stability and predictability in the justice system. The court hears essential and controversial cases that affect the lives of the citizens, organizations, businesses, and various arms of the government and makes decisions on them.
The court has the sole legal power to hear appeal cases on death penalties as well as other civil affairs of the state. It also has the discretion to choose appeal cases to hear according to its level of importance. The Supreme court makes decisions on accepted cases after listening to the oral arguments of the lawyers and reading their briefs. The decision of the Supreme Court Judges is known as opinions (written opinions). Decisions can be in the form of:
- Affirmation of previous decisions by the circuit court
- Reversing the previous decision
- Sending the case back for further researching
Missouri Court of Appeals
The Missouri Court of Appeals is made up of three districts, which are the Eastern, Western, and Southern District. The Eastern District is the largest appellate court of the state, while the Western District is the largest intermediate appellate court in the state.
The Court of Appeals has appellate jurisdiction over cases from the Circuit Court except in the case of death penalties or other cases the Supreme Court has exclusive jurisdiction over.
When a party to a court case feels the decision on the case is unfair, they can file an appeal for an opportunity for a reversal. The appeal will contain the events that took place in the court proceeding. Both parties will also write a brief that includes arguments with legal backing.
The judges then hear the oral arguments of lawyers from both parties and ask the necessary questions. Note that juries are witnesses and are not permitted in a Court of Appeal. Cases are heard only by Judges who will make the decisions.
Most times, the decision of the Court of Appeals is finally, only in rare cases are they further referred to the Supreme Court to make the final decisions written as opinions.
The Missouri Circuit Courts, located in all the counties of the state, is the first point of justice for the citizens of the state. It is where most trials occur. The court hears original civil and criminal cases, including cases related to juvenile delinquency. One remarkable thing about this court is that over the years, it has come up with initiatives aimed at addressing the root causes of people’s involvement in different crimes. And they have seen tremendous results.
What’s included in a Criminal Court Record?
Criminal court records primarily provide information regarding court proceedings, and often exclude inmate records and incarceration information. The information found in Missouri Criminal Court records include:
- Year of birth
- Case type
- Case number
- Pending charges
- Defendant name and address
- File date
- Appellate mandate date
- Appellate opinion
- Attorneys’ names
- Attorneys’ addresses
- Docket entries
- Finding and finding a date
- Bail amount
- Calendar dates
- Judgment and judgment date
- Sentence and sentence date
- Offenses receiving sentence
- Disposition type
- Offense tracking number
- Trial judge currently assigned
- The trial judge at the disposition
- Violation code and description
- Violation date
- Law enforcement agency
Obtaining Criminal Court Records
Criminal court records in Missouri are accessible by the public. Those interested in viewing or obtaining the records can either locate the court where the original case was heard and filed and orally request for the record. There are also options of asking for it via mail or online.
Each court in Missouri has its set of procedures that must be followed when trying to obtain the paper or electronic records. Members of the public will have to follow these procedures if they hope to get the records.
Some courts might demand that requests be made in written form rather than oral even when a member of the public visits the court.
The courts also have criminal court records that are restricted from public access according to the statute of the state. The public cannot view or request copies of these confidential records.
The custodian of the records can be an official from the Clerk of the court’s office, but most times, it is the appointing authority of the office which is the Clerk.
Requests made to the office are replied as promptly as possible. However, this also depends on the type of volume of the record requested. Members of the public do not need to disclose the reasons as to why they are seeking the records.
How Do I Access Missouri Criminal Court Records in Person?
Although most criminal court records can be found online, it is still better to visit the court in person to view the records. The reasons are that not all courts in the state are available online. Moreover, there is some information in the record which is not filed online. Such information includes:
- The final disposition of the case
- Felony A and B delinquency cases
Moreover, some search results online may not be accurate. Before visiting a courthouse, find out the days the courts are open. Find out their requirements for parking space and the fee charged for making copies for the records.
Individuals planning to visit the courthouse to obtain criminal records should do the following to make the process easy:
Step 1. Know the courthouse location
There are different levels of courts in Missouri and numerous branches of these courts. So before going to one of them to obtain the records, make sure it’s the right one. Individuals who already know the court where the case was heard are in luck. But for those who don’t, understanding the court system in Missouri will help. And then, the Missouri court directory will help in finding the location of these courts.
Step 2. Collect Case Information
After finding the location of the court, the next step is gathering information about the case to make the location of the court records fast and easy. Most courts will demand that individuals write an application to access records. And in that application, they should include information such as case number or name of defendant or parties involved. Failure to include them will result in ignoring the request.
If it’s impossible to obtain the case number or names of the parties involved in the case, then the individual will have to check through the court files which could be tasking if done manually. Some courts might offer to check it for a fee.
Step 3. Pay a visit to the courthouse
By now, individuals looking to obtain a criminal court record in person should have located the court where the record was generated and also gotten the necessary details to aid their search. Now, it’s time to pay a visit to the record. Those going with their cars should have their parking fees.
The clerk of the court will decide if the request for access should be made orally or submit a written application. The court will provide the request form.
The individual does not need to disclose the purpose of the request. Note that the clerk has the right to deny the application, and even put the denial in writing if the person requesting desires it.
Step 4. Fees
The courts in Missouri will charge a reasonable fee to those who will make copies of the records since they cannot take the original files with them.
How Do I Find Missouri Criminal Court Records by Mail?
Individuals interested in obtaining the records via mail should search for the right court through the Missouri website, and get their mailing address, information, phone numbers, and website. With these contact details, they will be able to inquire if the specific court sends records through the mail.
How to Find Missouri Criminal Court Records Online?
The public can have remote access to criminal court records online if they are available. These records can be accessed through public indexes such as the case number, party name, judgment against, file date, and calendar date. The displayed index will contain the case title, type, and status, and other added information.
The Missouri Case.Net is the official case management system for court records online. It was created on the 4th of April, 2006 and has been functioning ever since. Criminal court records are available on the system from 1995-present. Probate records are from 1977, while traffic records are from 1995 too.
Most courts in Missouri have their case information on this system. The public can search for case records, dockets, and judgments using it. However, the full records of a case are not online, as in some cases, the prosecuting attorney of a court case may request a temporary removal of a case record online due to some legal reasons.
Are all Missouri Criminal Court Records Public?
Criminal court records are available to all members of the public to view or make copies. Public records are accessed as long as it’s done during business hours, and it does not in any way interfere with the activities of the courthouse. However, not all records are public, as some as confidential according to the state statute, court rules, and orders. But the court will ensure to give reasons as to why the records are inaccessible by the public.
Can I Access Sealed Criminal Court Records?
Members of the public can be denied access to sealed court records. The court will issue an order to seal the record and the clerk will be in possession of the order. When denied access to view the documents, request for the sealing order.
However, individuals who have been denied access to a court record can write a written request to the state judicial records committee. The committee will review it at the next regular meeting, after which they will notify the clerk’s office and the person requesting the records in writing of their decision.
Are Juvenile Criminal Records Open to the Public?
Some juvenile records enjoy automatic sealing to shield them from the eyes of the public. Others will be sealed within 30 days. Records sealed within 30 days are offenses the court would have considered felonies if an adult committed them. And the contents of this record include only a fingerprint and photograph taken by law enforcement officials.
However, juveniles with records have to include their convictions on an application for a loan, education, and other documents since certain individuals can still access the sealed records. But if they file for expungement of records, they will no longer have to disclose such information. Juveniles can begin this procedure by filing a petition for expungement at the court.
What Records are Automatically Sealed by Missouri Statute?
Records that are automatically sealed by the Missouri Statute includes:
- Juvenile court records
- Trade secret information
- Mental health evaluation
Are Trial Transcripts Open to the Public?
The trial transcripts of Maryland District, US Courts are open to the public unless stated otherwise. The Clerk of the Court is in charge of maintaining the transcripts. Individuals interested in getting the paper transcript, CD-R, or DVD-R can request for the transcripts by completing the AO 435 Transcript Request Form and sending it via email to MOEDml_ExecTeam@moed.uscourts.gov. Find out the rates for the transcripts here.
How Do I Obtain Federal Criminal Court Records Online?
Publicly available records may also be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites offer the benefit of not being limited by geographical record availability and can often serve as a starting point when researching a specific or multiple records. To find a record using the search engines on these sites, interested parties must provide:
- The name of someone involved providing it is a not a juvenile
- The assumed location of the record in question such as a city, county, or state name.
Third-party sites are not government-sponsored websites, and record availability may differ from official channels