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Finding Court Records in Missouri

Missouri Courts Overview

It helps to understand how the Missouri state court system works when you’re trying to find court records. The Missouri trial court system consists of Circuit Court, Municipal Courts, and Administrative Hearing Commission.

Circuit Courts are the primary trial courts in Missouri and have general jurisdiction over all civil and criminal cases. Circuit Courts usually do not handle ordinance violation cases within the limited jurisdiction of Municipal Courts. Some Municipal Courts have county-wide jurisdiction and others only have local jurisdiction within a town or city.

If you prefer, you can start your search by going to Missouri Courts by County.

Missouri Circuit Court

Circuit Courts have general jurisdiction over all civil and criminal cases and typically handle all cases beyond the jurisdiction of Municipal Courts.

Circuit Courts are generally organized into divisions based on case type, such as Associate Circuit, Family Court, Juvenile Court, Probate Court, Small Claims Court, Municipal Court and Traffic Court.

Associate Circuit. Within a Circuit Court, associate judges have jurisdiction over certain types of cases, such as misdemeanor criminal cases and infractions.

Family Court. A Family Court division has exclusive jurisdiction over certain types of cases. Cases heard by a Family Court division include dissolution of marriage (divorce), legal separation, annulment, maintenance (alimony), child custody, adoption, juvenile proceedings, child support, adult abuse prevention, child protection and petitions for name changes.

Juvenile Court. If no Family Court division exists in a particular Circuit Court, there may be a Juvenile Court division with jurisdiction over certain types of cases. Cases heard by a Juvenile Court division include children alleged to be in need of care and treatment, children alleged to be beyond the control of their parents, juvenile delinquency, truancy, adoption and guardianships.

Probate Court. Every Circuit Court has a Probate Court division with general equitable jurisdiction for all probate matters, such as the probate of wills, the determination of heirs, the administration of trusts and most guardianship cases.

Small Claims Court. Every Circuit Court has a Small Claims Court division that offers a simplified procedure for most general civil claims for less than $3,000, exclusive of interest or costs. A defendant may bring a counterclaim in excess of $3,000, although part or all of the case may be transferred to another court division.

Municipal Court and Traffic Court. If a county municipal court does not exist in the area, a Circuit Court may have a Municipal Court or Traffic Court division with jurisdiction over violations of municipal ordinances. Some areas may also have administrative tribunals that operate under the supervision of the Circuit Court and hear cases related to violations of parking and traffic ordinances for a municipality.

Missouri Municipal Courts

Municipal Courts have limited jurisdiction to hear cases involving violations of municipal ordinances.

Missouri Administrative Hearing Commission

The Administrative Hearing Commission is a neutral, independent administrative tribunal that has jurisdiction in over 100 matters identified by statute including State tax, professional licensing, Medicaid provider issues, disciplinary actions against State employees, and Highways and Transportation Commission actions. Some cases start at the Administrative Hearing Commission while others are appeals from decisions of other State agencies.

The Administrative Hearing Commission hears cases statewide but operates out of one central location.

Missouri Court Notes

Missouri has created several different types of specialized court programs to handle certain types of cases. A Circuit Court may have specialized “problem-solving” programs such as a Drug Court, Mental Health Court, Teen Court or Truancy Court.

Drug Court programs create alternative ways of responding to certain crimes related to drug use and may offer a way for sentences and charges to be reduced, modified or dismissed.

Mental Health Court programs focus on the mental health and disability-related needs of people involved in the criminal justice system.

Teen Court is designed as an alternative to the juvenile justice system for certain misdemeanor cases, and may offer a participant the ability to engage in restorative justice.

Truancy Court is designed to focus on the needs of children, from elementary school through high school, who are chronically absent from school but not yet charged with juvenile delinquency.

Where to Find Court Cases in Missouri

The chart below gives general information on the types of cases heard in each type of Missouri court.

Most Cases = Most or all cases.     Some Cases = Some cases.

Case Type Court Type
Civil Circuit Court Municipal Courts
General Civil - Unlimited Most or All Cases  
General Civil - Limited Most or All Cases  
Small Claims Most or All Cases  
Civil Equity Most or All Cases  
Complex Commercial Most or All Cases  
Foreclosures and Liens Most or All Cases  
Real Estate Title and Boundary Most or All Cases  
Landlord / Tenant Most or All Cases  
Ordinance Violations Some Cases Most or All Cases
Protection, No Contact, and Restraining Orders Most or All Cases  
Administrative Agency Appeals Most or All Cases  
Criminal Circuit Court Municipal Courts
Felony Most or All Cases  
Felony Preliminary Hearings Most or All Cases  
Misdemeanors Most or All Cases  
Ordinance Violations Some Cases Most or All Cases
Juvenile Most or All Cases  
Traffic and Infractions Some Cases Most or All Cases
Domestic Relations Circuit Court Municipal Courts
Divorce Most or All Cases  
Child Custody and Visitation Most or All Cases  
Child Support Most or All Cases  
Paternity Most or All Cases  
Domestic Violence Protection Order Most or All Cases  
Juvenile Circuit Court Municipal Courts
Adoptions Most or All Cases  
Juvenile Delinquency Most or All Cases  
Child Abuse and Neglect Most or All Cases  
Termination of Parental Rights Most or All Cases  
Children in Need of Supervision Most or All Cases  
Mental Health Circuit Court Municipal Courts
Involuntary Commitments Most or All Cases  
Other Mental Health Cases Most or All Cases  
Probate Circuit Court Municipal Courts
Wills & Estates Most or All Cases  
Name Changes Most or All Cases  
Trusts Most or All Cases  
Guardianships and Conservatorships Most or All Cases  

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