Government Records Missouri: Where to Obtain Government Records for the State of Missouri?
According to the Sunshine Law of Missouri, the records of nearly every governmental agency are open to the public. Judicial records have some restrictions placed on them, as do reports of ongoing investigations and arrest records of individuals who are not convicted. Further, records that may divulge sensitive information are also sealed away from the public. Other exemptions include:
- Records of selling, buying or leasing real estate
- Codes for software
- Confidential information between a government agency and its attornies
- Personnel records of individuals
- Social security numbers
- Virtual keys, credit card numbers, and access codes
- Information regarding existing or proposed security systems
- Records of cases where the prosecution declined to prosecute, the case was dismissed, the convict was found not guilty, or the convict was found not guilty because of mental defects
Compliance with the law is mandatory. You will be fined $1000 if you unknowingly broke the law. If you broke the law despite knowing its restrictions, you will be fined $5000.
You have to request for records to the government agency that houses the documents, as Missouri does not have a separate office for processing inquiries of records. The government agency has three days to process your request after receiving it. If the agency takes longer than the stipulated period, they have to send you a written note explaining the delay.
Similarly, if your request cannot be accepted, the agency has to send you a written explanation. The agency has to tell you why your request was denied. If you feel like your request was denied unfairly, you have the option of appealing the decision in court. The time for appeal is set to one year after the denial. You can appeal to your local circuit court.
If your requested document is copied on a sheet of paper equal to or smaller than 9x14, you will be charged ten cents per page. You will also be charged an hourly rate for the services of the staff, which includes the time spent in locating and duplicating the records.
You can be charged a higher rate if you want the documents copied onto a sheet of paper larger than 9x14. If your request involves looking at maps, graphs, disks, tapes, or digital records, you will be charged an hourly rate even if you do not make copies. If you do require copies, you will be required to pay the cost of the disks.
You will not have to pay a fee if you can prove to the agency that you are requesting records to better public knowledge about a particular subject.
Going to Court
The state of Missouri gives you the option of going to court if you feel like your request was improperly denied. The agency will have to prove that its denial complied with the law. if you win, the court can award you damages up to $1000.
The actual amount depends on various factors, such as the actual offense, the seriousness of the case, the size of the jurisdiction, and whether the agency was previously found guilty of withholding details of a case. The court will also award you with the costs of the court and attorney fees.
If you prove that the government agency purposely violated the law, you can receive damages up to $5000. You will also receive an amount covering the expenses of the court and attorney fees. The court will have to take into account the actual offense, the importance of the record in question, and whether the agency was previously found guilty of knowingly denying records.
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