Are Warrants Public Record in Missouri?
Yes, warrants are public information in Missouri according to the provisions of Mo. Rev. Stat. § 610.010.6(6). The statute defines public records to include documents that are “retained by or prepared for a public body”. Warrants do not fall under the exceptions to this rule as outlined in Mo. Rev. Stat. § 610.021. As such, anyone can access or search warrants on the state’s public records database at any time without restriction. However, law enforcement agents can restrict selected records from public access if they believe that it will be dangerous to an informant, victim, witness, undercover officer, or any other person. Warrants are deemed judicial records primarily but may be retained as part of an individual’s Missouri criminal record.
What is a Warrant in Missouri?
Warrants in Missouri are court orders providing law enforcement officers with the legal authority to make arrests or search and/or seize private properties. When looking to obtain warrants at the court, district attorneys and law enforcement agents like police officers and sheriff’s deputies must back the requests with probable cause. A police officer usually needs a warrant when the party did not witness a misdemeanor offense but wants to arrest the offender.
However, in the case of crime suspects considered to be flight risks or danger to others, law enforcement officers do not need warrants before making the arrest. There are various types of warrants in Missouri, but courts frequently issue arrest, bench, and search warrants. In the United States, all seizures and search cases are governed by the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution, which protects the right of citizens against unreasonable searches and seizures, except the warrant is valid upon probable cause.
How to Find Out if You Have a Warrant in Missouri?
Missouri sometimes decides to notify subjects of active warrants, but this is by no means an obligation. It is up to the individual to get such information. Since judges dispense warrants, these documents are usually cataloged in court records. Hence, interested individuals may carry out a Missouri warrant search by exploring public records online or contacting the sheriff’s office or other law enforcement bodies in the region. The court system in Missouri keeps a comprehensive public database hosting warrants, court judgments, and charges. A requestor may use the platform by entering the last name of the subject.
To get more accurate search results, use search filters like city, county, and alias information for the Missouri warrant search. Interested persons may contact the warrant departments of the local sheriff offices to make inquiries. Most sheriff offices keep files of active warrants and arrange these documents by last names. Certain counties like Boone, Douglas, Greene, and Cass publish lists of active warrants online, detailing the age of the suspects and details of the offenses. Placing calls to the sheriff’s offices is usually the best option to get the latest information as online databases might not reflect recent changes.
In addition, parties may visit local law enforcement bodies in person. However, interested individuals who visit law enforcement agencies’ offices may be apprehended on the spot if there are active warrants against them. A resident may also perform a Missouri warrant search on different third-party websites that offer free or paid services. However, it is advisable to verify information from these unofficial sources through official means like contacting the sheriff’s office.
Records of warrants issued or executed in various jurisdictions are also maintained and by third-party websites. While third-party sites make accessing these records substantially easier, the information available on the sites may vary since they are not government run sources. To obtain warrant records from a third-party site, the requesting party may be required to provide:
- The personal information of the alleged suspect
- Information regarding the issuing officer
- The location where the warrant was issued.
How Long Does a Warrant Stay Active in Missouri?
There is no expiry date for most warrants in Missouri. These orders remain active until law enforcement officers nab the subjects of the warrants or the offenders pass away, or the judges recall the warrants for some other reasons. However, a search warrant usually comes with a validity period. Having an outstanding warrant in Missouri may impact a person’s life in various ways, like the inability to secure a bank loan. It may also affect an individual’s employability because many employers carry out background checks on potential employees. Based on these reasons, it is advisable that a party addresses a warrant as soon as possible rather than try to wait it out. Using the help of a legal practitioner is also advisable in dealing with a warrant.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Warrant in Missouri?
In Missouri, it typically takes few hours to obtain a search warrant. However, law enforcement officers may expedite the process in special/urgent cases and obtain one within minutes. The time within which an officer may get a warrant depends on numerous factors.
However, the primary one is how long it takes for them to convince the judge that there is probable cause for searching the suspect’s property or arresting them. The law enforcement agents must prove probable cause by signing an affidavit containing facts that support their allegations. Another factor that determines the time it takes to get a warrant in Missouri is how long it takes them to reach a judge.
What is a Missouri Search Warrant?
Under Mo. Rev. Stat. § 542.271, a Missouri search warrant orders a law enforcement officer or peace officer to search or inspect a place, property, or thing. It also permits the seizure, recording, and photographing of a property that may serve as proof of a violation. Peace officers or law enforcement officers may apply for search warrants in writing by giving complete information of the properties, substances, materials, or persons to be searched or properties to be seized. Also, they must provide adequate facts showing probable cause to issue warrants.
A written affidavit verified by affirmation or oath must accompany a search warrant application in Missouri because the judicial officer will only consider the affidavit for issuing a search warrant. A magistrate or judge may only issue a search warrant for:
- Stolen property
- Authorized seizure of property by any state law
- Property used to manufacture or produce anything against state laws
- Search and rescue of a kidnapped person
- Search for anyone with an outstanding valid felony arrest warrant
- Search and seizure of any corpse or deceased fetus
Missouri search warrants expire after ten days from the date of issue. After executing the warrant, the officer returns the warrant to the judge showing the time, date, manner of execution, items or property seized, and the owner’s name. Pursuant to Mo. Rev. Stat. § 542.291, the law enforcement officer must return the copy of the warrant with an inventory receipt.
What Can Make a Missouri Search Warrant Invalid?
According to Mo. Rev. Stat. § 542.276, a warrant is invalid in Missouri if a judge does not issue it or if a judge approves it without verifying the purpose. Also, if a judge approves a warrant outside the judicial officer’s jurisdiction, the warrant becomes baseless. A higher judicial authority may nullify a warrant that is not signed correctly. If a warrant has a validity date and the law enforcement officer or peace officer does not perform the action within this period, the warrant becomes void.
How to Conduct an Active Warrant Search in Missouri
Inquirers can visit the state’s official judicial database to search information on active warrants in Missouri by inputting any of the following information:
- Individual’s name
- Case number
- Filing date
- Individual’s attorney
- Judge or commissioner’s name
- Scheduled trials and hearings
- Judgment index, etc
Note that interested parties can only access warrants through casenet when the court that granted the warrant have included the case management in their Missouri Court Automation Program.To use Casenet, interested parties will:
- Type “litigant name search” upon accessing the website
- Search for the last name of the person
- Navigate to the case number and click on it
- Find warrants through the tab for docket entries
Free Warrant Search Options in Missouri
Individuals can use the Missouri court record database to search for warrants without paying anything. The only cost they will incur is that arising from their use of the internet. Putting a call across to a clerk of court or law enforcement agencies to check for warrants is also free.
Furthermore, there are third-party/private websites that maintain online repositories and allow inquirers to conduct warrant searches through them for free.
What is an Arrest Warrant in Missouri?
An arrest warrant is a legal document that authorizes law enforcement officers to arrest or detain a person. A police officer, deputy sheriff, or district attorney may obtain an arrest warrant provided there is an affidavit showing that probable cause exists. Upon application, the court may issue a summons instead of an arrest warrant, except if there is:
- Sufficient facts that the accused committed an ordinance violation.
- A reasonable ground for the court to believe the defendant may not appear upon notification
- Evidence to prove the defendant is a threat to either a victim, the community, or any other person.
The arrest warrant must be written and issued by the prosecuting county or municipality. Also, a judge or magistrate must authorize the warrant by signing it. Notably, an arrest warrant in Missouri must include the following information:
- The full name of the person to be arrested, and if not known, any description that enables the identification of the defendant may suffice.
- Possible criminal offenses committed by the individual or probable cause that warrants arrest.
- The date and jurisdiction of issuance.
- Signature and name of the presiding judge.
- A formal order that the defendant named or described be arrested and brought personally or by video conference to the court designated in the warrant.
- Conditions for release
Officers of the law may serve a warrant of arrest anywhere in the state. Missouri law enforcement officials may arrest an individual without a warrant only in any of the following circumstances:
- The officers witness the crimes
- There is a strong probable cause
- If the arrest involves a felony, indicating the accused may pose a danger to others or be a flight risk.
However, Mo. Rev. Stat. § 479.360 specifies that no person may be held in municipal custody for more than 24 hours without a warrant. Also, law enforcement officers must release a defendant who cannot meet with a judge either through face-to-face contact, phone contact, or video conference within 48 hours of arrest for traffic violations or within 72 hours of any other breach.
What is a Child Support Arrest Warrant in Missouri?
Arrest warrants for child support cases are issued for criminal non-support matters. A child support arrest warrant may be obtained against a person who intentionally fails to provide adequate financial support for a child/stepchild/adopted child who the party is legally obligated to provide for. However, informal agreements between both parents are not legally binding. Under Mo. Rev. Stat. § 568.040, criminal non-support is a Class A misdemeanor, except if the total arrearage exceeds twelve monthly payments.
The Missouri Family Support Division - Child Support Enforcement enforces child support orders in Missouri. Under Mo. Rev. Stat. § 452.340, the Missouri Family Support Division offers assistance to parents and guardians with obtaining and enforcing child support orders. In other cases, the courts may hold child support enforcement proceedings. No matter why a parent is delinquent in payments, Missouri Family Support has several options for child support enforcement.
What is a Missouri Bench Warrant?
A bench warrant in Missouri is an order from the judge directing the police to arrest a person who has allegedly committed a crime or is guilty of contempt of court. The order authorizes that the criminal is brought before the court or put behind bars until there is a date for trial. Typically, a Missouri bench warrant shows the date of issuance and county of issuance, the name of the defendant to be brought to book, and the charge in the indictment. The judge, conforming to the jurisdiction provided by the judiciary, may only issue a bench warrant in any of these instances:
- The failure to pay fines
- The failure to attend court meetings
- Probation violation
- A failed drug test
- A new criminal charge
Once a Missouri court issues a bench warrant, there are only a few decisions to make going forward. The defendant must either show up in court or seek the service of an attorney for representation. Generally, a bench warrant may keep running until the purpose for its issuance is achieved. With this knowledge, to avoid forceful arrests, it is vital that members of the public search for bench warrants against them and respond in due time.
In Missouri, What is Failure to Appear?
In Missouri, a failure to appear (FTA) is a bench warrant for the failure to appear for an obligatory judicial meeting even after notification. It is more common for people to refuse court appearances than several other violations. As a result, judges issue more FTAs compared to other warrants. If the judge finds the violation intentional, the court forfeits any form of security issued to release the person or any bond agreement.
In addition, the individual may remain in the custody of the police until the receipt of further directives. In like manner, Missouri Courts may notify the Department of Revenue to suspend a person’s driver’s license if there is a violation of traffic law and the offender fails to appear in court. Also, a violator may have to pay an additional fine in the range of $10 to $100, depending on the county and court.
How Long Do You Have to Stay in Jail for a Warrant for Missing Court in Missouri?
Following the provisions of Mo. Rev. Stat. § 544.665, a failure to appear is a crime, but it is classed per the existing offense. It may be:
- A Class E felony if the initial offense included a felony and the punishment involves not more than four years in jail or a $5,000 fine.
- A Class A misdemeanor if the violation was a misdemeanor that attracts incarceration in a county jail for one year or a $1,000 fine.
- An infraction if the offense has to do with an infraction and the penalty is a fine of $500.
- A violation if the criminal matter includes the infringement of a municipal code and the offender pays $500 in fine.
In Missouri, What is Failure to Pay?
A failure to pay is one of the several types of bench warrants a court issues in Missouri against a party who fails to pay a fine within the specified period. The court-ordered fine in this context refers to spousal support, child support, and traffic fines. If the reason for failure to pay is authentic, the court reviews the warrant and sideline the punishment. However, if it is willful, the person is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.
What is a No-Knock Warrant in Missouri?
A no-knock warrant is a unique search warrant that gives a law enforcement officer the power to enter a person’s place of abode without the need to knock. Courts usually dispense this type of warrant to avoid the loss of evidence, prevent the culprit from fleeing, or the occurrence of a shoot-out. Notwithstanding, the Missouri Senate, according to the summary of a current bill, officers are now mandated to knock before entry, except it involves a violent felony offender who is likely to escape or harm others. As a result, members of the public may file a motion in court to redact evidence if the search warrant was not orderly completed.
How to Perform a Federal Warrant Search
All warrants that are issued for federal crimes or granted by federal judges are maintained by the US Marshal’s Service Warrant Information System (WIN). However, the public cannot search the database as the information therein is not open to public disclosure. As such, many people know that they have federal warrants only at the time of arrest or when they receive a letter notifying them of the warrant.
Fortunately, there are numerous private online databases that individuals can leverage to search information about federal warrants for a fee. They may also get information about Federal court records, warrants, and arrests from PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records)
Does Missouri DMV Check for Warrants?
The Missouri Department of Revenue (DOR) is in charge of registering and overseeing the licensing of motor vehicles in the state. They may check for warrants directly or indirectly as bench warrants automatically go on Missouri driving records. Generally, the DOR will suspend a driver’s license whenever a Missouri court reports an arrest warrant or Failure to Appear Charge to them. This type of suspension is referred to as a FACT or FTA suspension and drivers will have to pay reinstatement fines and show proof of release from the court before the suspension will be lifted.