Frequently Asked Questions


The legal next of kin should inform our office if they object to an autopsy being performed. The Medical Examiner’s office is sensitive to the needs of the family and will seriously consider their objection.  However, in many cases an autopsy is required by law and we will be unable to comply with the family’s request.

The family can request a copy of the autopsy report by submitting a written request via email, mail or fax. Please include the following:

• Decedent’s full name

• Decedent’s date of death

• Decedent’s date of birth

• Your relationship to the decedent

• State that you are requesting a copy of the autopsy report

• Include your return address and contact number

Note: If requesting by mail, a self-addressed, stamped envelope will need to be provided with the request. Email request to: Please note that no reports will be released if an ongoing criminal case exists. Only after a criminal case is adjudicated or dismissed will an autopsy report be released.

To have a body released from the Medical Examiner’s office, the legal next of kin will need to call the Medical Examiner’s office at 816.271.1433 and
inform their office of the funeral home that has been selected. Please leave a voicemail and your call will be returned.

To report a death, please contact the on-call investigator:  816-259-1795

Hospice companies report via paper reports all deaths that fall under hospice care. Determinations of whether the Medical Examiner will take jurisdiction on a hospice case is determined after receiving their report.

No. The cost for an autopsy performed under the Medical Examiner System is paid for by our tax dollars.

The Buchanan County Medical Examiner office is open Monday – Friday, 8:00 am. to 4:30 pm. for calls. The Medicolegal Death Investigator is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to accept reports of death. There is no viewing of decedents. All viewing must be arranged with the funeral home to which the decedent is released.

An autopsy is a systematic examination of the body of a deceased person by a qualified pathologist. The body is examined for the presence of disease or injury, and specimens of the vital organs and/or body fluids may be taken for microscopic, chemical, or other testing. These tests are conducted following completion of the examination and do not delay the release of the body to the next of kin. Having an autopsy does not in any way interfere with viewing the body at the funeral. Buchanan County autopsies are performed by a forensic pathologist at the Jackson County Medical Examiner’s office in Kansas City, Missouri.

Nearly all cases are completed within 24-48 hrs. Bodies may need to be held longer if special forensic testing is required or to confirm the identity of the deceased.

You should contact the funeral home for death certificates. You may also contact the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, P.O. Box 570, Jefferson City, MO 65102, 573.526.0348 for copies of death certificates.

Any property that is transported with the body to the Medical Examiner’s Office will be inventoried, stored, and released to the funeral director at the time of the release of the body.

Bodies of deceased persons are brought to this office because Missouri State statutes require that the Medical Examiner investigate deaths of persons dying from “violence, or suddenly when in apparent health, or in any suspicious, unusual, or unnatural manner”. The Medical Examiner is responsible for determining the cause and manner of their death. A body may also be brought to the office if the identity of the deceased or next of kin is unknown.

The Medical Examiner’s Office supports the community efforts to promote organ and tissue donation whenever possible. This office will coordinate with the personnel of the organ bank to maximize the chance of organ and tissue recovery.


As a witness, you may watch the proceedings unless you are excluded from the courtroom by the judge. In any event, witnesses should not discuss their testimony with each other.

Your insurance may provide coverage for personal injury or property loss due to a crime. If your report of a crime results in the offender being placed on probation or parole, the court may order the offender to make restitution - to pay for the cost of your injuries, damages or loss. An order does not guarantee restitution and many times, it is not possible. However, this office will make every effort to see that restitution is paid when ordered.

The Victim Compensation Act provides monetary compensation for certain uninsured out of pocket losses, as a result of personal injury. Compensation may also be provided to rape victims for the uninsured cost of hospital rape examinations.

(Click here for more information)

Our Criminal Justice System depends on your patience and commitment. While some delays and frustrations are unavoidable, we work to minimize their inconvenience to you. In recent times, the “rights” of defendants in criminal cases have been emphasized to the point of neglecting the rights of victims and witnesses. Concern about you and your rights is the whole idea behind Prosecuting Attorney Michelle Davidson providing Victim/Witness Services.

A defendant who has been found guilty or has pleaded guilty is sentenced by the judge presiding at the trial. Using the state statues as a guideline (sentences are expressed in terms of minimums, maximums and other options), the judge sentences the defendant in a manner appropriate to the crime and other circumstances related to the case. The defendant may be sentenced to jail or placed on probation or ordered to make restitution or ordered to pay court costs and/or a fine.

The Prosecuting Attorney’s Office will attempt to reach you by telephone. If you request, we will send you a subpoena to make your release from work easier. The subpoena will specify the time and place for you to appear and what, if anything, you should bring. Should any continuances (delays) of your case occur, you will be notified.

If the judge decides probable cause has not been established, the court then dismisses the case. This means that all legal action has come to an end and the defendant is released. This may also occur if witnesses, such as you, fail to appear to testify in criminal cases. Cases may also be dismissed by the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.

If you are called or subpoenaed to testify at a preliminary hearing, the prosecutor will ask that you take the witness chair and, under oath, answer questions about who you are and what you know about the case.

In a trial, the prosecutor (from the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office), presents the case for the state and has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant did commit the alleged crime. The defendant may present evidence, although he has no obligation to do so. Furthermore the defendant may not be compelled to testify. The trial may be either before a judge, or before a jury.

After arrest, the defendant (the accused) is arraigned in associate circuit court. The arraignment is to review the amount of bail; to furnish the defendant with a copy of the charge, to see that legal counsel is provided either by the defendant or the court; and to set a date for the preliminary hearing. Under Missouri law, the preliminary hearing must be set within ten days after the arraignment. At times during a proceeding either the defendant, the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office or the Court on its own motion may seek a continuance (a delay) of the hearing for a number of reasons.

A crime committed against any person is a crime against the state. Our community and each of us as individuals deserve protection against criminal wrong-doers. For this reason, the court can compel testimony of a victim or witness to a crime. A great deal of costly work will proceed and be wasted if the victim does not testify. The loss of a case because a victim or a witness drops out, is a tragedy. Should you have any reluctance about testifying in a case, please discuss your concerns with the Victim Witness Advocate or the prosecutor handling the case. They will try to help with any problems, doubts or questions you may have.

Only on extremely rare occasions are witnesses threatened. If anyone has threatened you in connection with the case in which you are involved, either in or out of court, he/she may have committed a new crime. Immediately contact your local Police Department or Sheriff’s Office and report the threat and then tell the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.

You may be contacted by the defense attorney or a private investigator hired by the defense attorney. We cannot advise you to refuse to speak with persons connected with the defendant, but you have the right to refuse if you so desire. Additionally, you may request that an attorney from our office be present when you are being questioned.

A deposition is the recorded testimony of a witness, given under oath in the presence of both the defense attorney and the prosecuting attorney. The purpose of taking a deposition is to determine and preserve the testimony of a witness.

A docket call is a short hearing held in a pending case. At this hearing, the prosecutor, the defendant’s attorney, and defendant are required to be present. The judge asks what the status is and what remains to be done. If the case is ready for final disposition a plea or trial date will be set. If an additional docket call is needed, one will be scheduled.

A preliminary hearing pertains to felony cases; taking the form of a mini-trial in which testimony is taken under oath and where the judge, defendant and defendant’s attorney, the prosecutor, and any victims or witnesses subpoenaed are present. At the preliminary hearing, the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office has to establish that: 1) a crime has been committed in Buchanan County; and 2) probable cause exists to believe that the defendant committed the crime. During this proceeding, the defendant’s attorney may cross-examine the state’s witnesses and produce any evidence, if he wishes. If probable cause is established, the judge will order that the defendant be “bound over” to Circuit Court for trial. In some cases, the defendant may waive (not demand) the preliminary hearing and the case will then be sent directly to Circuit Court for trial.

A subpoena is an official court order inviting you to appear at the time and place it specifies - usually to provide testimony. You should have your subpoena with you when you appear. Failure to appear constitutes contempt of court. If you should move or change your telephone number after receiving a subpoena, please contact the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office immediately.

An arrest warrant is an order signed by a judge, authorizing the police to arrest a person believed to have committed a crime.

Bail is cash or a security bond to assure the defendant’s appearance in court at the next scheduled hearing. The amount of value of bail is set by the court and may vary depending on a number of factors including the seriousness of the offense charged.

Contact law enforcement immediately: St. Joseph Police Department if you live in the city, or Buchanan County Sheriff’s Department if you live in the county. Inform the officer that you are a victim or witness in a pending case. Report to them that the defendant has contacted you. Then notify our office at 271-1480.

First and foremost, you will have done your best to make our community a safe place to live and work. You may sometimes feel frustrated and discouraged - the process of justice does take time. But, some of the delays you may encounter are part of the system that protects your rights if someone accuses you of a crime. In our country, every person is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
To protect this right, our system of criminal justice provides many steps.


The recorder always recommends the retention of an attorney or title company for this important process. The recorders office is a recording agency and is prohibited by state law from making out deeds or answering those questions which pertain to legal matters.

No we do not require you to, but you may call the Missouri Division of Professional Registration at 573-751-0293.

$51.00. Valid Photo ID. See Marriage License Requirements for more info.

Those are filed at the Missouri Secretary of States office. click here


Candidates who file on the first day by 5:00 p.m. will select a number by random drawing. The random number drawn determines the candidate's primary ballot placement. After the first day, candidates are placed on the ballot in the order of their filing. (Section 115.395, RSMo) Ballot Placement Information

The first day to file for a County Office for the August 7th Primary Election is February 27, 2018 beginning at 8:00 am. The last day to file is March 27, 2018 until 5:00 pm.

To file for a County Office you will come to the County Clerk's Office in the Buchanan County Courthouse (411 Jules Street, Room 121, St. Joseph, MO 64501). You will file in our office if are running for: Associate Circuit Judge, Presiding County Commissioner, Clerk of the Circuit Court, County Clerk, Recorder of Deeds, County Treasurer, Prosecuting Attorney, County Auditor, and Collector of Revenue. All STATE offices (including Circuit Court Judge) would file in Jefferson City with the Secretary of State's Office.

You are welcome to contact the County Clerk's Office regarding any questions of campaign ethics or campaign finance. However, your best source of information is always the Missouri Ethics Commission. Please see the link to their website.  Missouri Ethics Commission

Please note we are hosting a Candidate Ethics Training Class on April 18, 2018 at 6:00 pm for all candidates running in the upcoming August Primary Election. The training location will be the Pat Byrne Memorial Election Building (1005 N. 4th Street, St. Joseph, MO 64501). Please call the County Clerk's Office at 271-1412 to RSVP so we have an accurate headcount.

Missouri Ethics Commission


It costs $5.00 to get a copy of a list on CD (Excel Only). Fees are to be pre-paid by cash or check payable to : Buchanan County Clerk. You can make your request in person, by phone, or forward your request to : Buchanan County Election Authority, 411 Jules Street, Room 121, St. Joseph, MO 64501 or fax to 816-271-1535.

The first day of filing for Candidates for the April 5th, 2016 Election is December 15th, 2015. The last day to file is January 19th, 2016 until 5:00 pm.

Since the April 2016 is a General Municipal Election, you will file your candidacy with the Political Subdivision for which you wish to hold office. For example: If you want to run for a St. Joseph School Board position, you would file your paper work with the St. Joseph School District. Each individual Political Subdivision will have their own set of rules and requirements for the position you are running.

You are always welcome to contact the County Clerk's Office regarding any questions of campaign ethics or campaign finance. However, your best source of information is always the Missouri Ethics Commission. Please see the link to their website. Missouri Ethics Commission


This is an example of a frequently asked question

This is an example of a frequently asked question

This is an example of a frequently asked question

This is an example of a frequently asked question


To qualify for a waiver in Buchanan County, you must meet one of the following requirements:

  1. You are new to our state.
  2. You are a former resident returning to Missouri from another State and no unpaid personal property taxes are due in Buchanan or any other Missouri county.
  3. You lived in Buchanan County on January 1st of the previous year, but you did not have any personal property titled in your name.

If you meet requirement No. 1, 2 or 3, you will have to bring your title, application for title, or registration to our office at the Buchanan County courthouse to receive a free tax waiver.

When you get your assessment list in the mail, you will find that your address and property from the previous year are pre-printed on the form.  If there are changes to your address, please make those changes in the spaces provided.  If you have moved out of Buchanan County, and your mail was forwarded, please mail the list back to the Assessor’s office informing us of this so that you may be removed from the tax rolls and avoid future mailings.

The property pre-printed on your assessment list is the property that was on file for you in the previous year.  Any property that you no longer own will need a line drawn through and provide the date you no longer owned it.  Below the list of pre-printed items are sections for you to list property that was acquired during the previous year.  Be sure to fill the form out completely. Do not re-list property that has been pre-printed for you.  Should corrections need to be made to the pre-printed property lines item, make those corrections directly to them.


MO State Statute 137.080

By law, personal property is divided into sub classes.

Grain    ½ of 1% of true market value

Livestock    12% of true market value

Motor Vehicles    33 ⅓% of true market value

Manufactured Homes    19% of true market value

Historic Aircraft & Vehicles    5% of true market value

All other personal property    33 ⅓% of true market value

Classification and assessment ratios are set by the State Law and cannot be changed by the Assessor.

Yes.  If you have any property titled in your name, you must still claim the property and pay taxes due on it.

  1. Please bring a copy of your previous year tax receipt or a tax waiver from the county from which you are moving.
  2. And your titles, vehicle registrations or renewals.
  3. Or your Missouri application for title and title(if a new purchase, the back of the title must be properly completed).

Individual personal property and business personal property include : motor vehicles, trailers, mobile homes, watercraft, boat motors, aircraft, livestock, farm machinery and equipment, and any other personal property not exempted by law. There may be circumstances when a mobile home may be considered real property and not personal property. For more information, contact the Assessor's office.

The tax responsibility goes to the owner of record on January 1.  If the property is owned jointly and the court order dissolving the marriage does not address tax liability, both parties are jointly responsible for taxes.  A tax receipt or waiver can not be granted until the joint tax bill has been paid.

The amount of tax you owe is based on the vehicles owned on January 1 of the tax year.  These vehicles should be self reported on your current year Assessment List.

We need to verify the vehicle you are licensing is going to be in your name before we issue the waiver.  We also need the make, model and VIN to assess your vehicle correctly.

According to state law, your tax obligation is established on January 1.  Even if you move out-of-state the next day, you are still obligated to pay Missouri taxes.  State law makes no provisions for pro-rating your personal property tax bill.  If you move out of Buchanan County, please contact the Assessor's office (816-271-1520) with your new address.  If moving to another county in Missouri, you will also need to notify your new Assessor's office of your new residence.

The amount of tax you owe each year is based on the value of the vehicles you owned on January 1.  Missouri State Statutes dictate we use the October issue of the NADA book.

You are required to return your Assessment form to our office not later than March 1st.  If it is received later than March 1st you will see a FILING PENALTY that is based on the total assessed value of your vehicles.  The increments are as follows:

$0 - $1,000$15 FILING PENALTY
$1001 - $2000$25 FILING PENALTY
$2001 - $3000$35 FILING PENALTY
$3001 - $4000$45 FILING PENALTY
$4001 - $5000$55 FILING PENALTY
$5001 - $6000$65 FILING PENALTY
$6001 - $7000$75 FILING PENALTY
$7001 - $8000$85 FILING PENALTY
$8001 - $9000$95 FILING PENALTY
$9001 And Above$105 FILING PENALTY


Reassessed values of real estate are placed on the tax rolls by the Assessor every odd-numbered year (2019, 2021, etc.).  With over 40,000 parcels in the county, we may not get to all of them every two years.

Over time market value changes even if no improvements are made to the property. Many people sell their homes for much more than they paid for them years earlier. The statutes require that property be periodically reassessed to maintain realistic market values and treat all taxpayers fairly. We often get calls at bill time where taxpayers do not understand a raise in the tax amount. In many cases the assessed amount has not changed but the tax rate has making the tax amount due higher than the previous year.

No.  Exempt real estate includes property owned by governments, and property used as non-profit cemeteries, exclusively for religious worship, for schools and colleges, and for purely charitable purposes.  However, exemption is not automatic, and it is the responsibility of the property owner to show the property should be exempt from ad valorem taxes.

Assessment is the process of placing value on a property for the purpose of property taxation. Reassessment is an update of all real property assessments in the City, conducted by the Assessor to equalize values among taxpayers and to adjust values to current market conditions.

For most real estate owners, nothing. However, if new construction, rehabilitation or renovation have taken place, the property's market value is adjusted to reflect the added value of the new construction. If some type of destruction occurs such as fire or flood the value is then adjusted to reflect the decrease in value. The total value is based upon the market conditions as of January 1 of the preceding year.

Market value, true value in money and appraised value have the same meaning under Missouri law. A simple definition of market value is the price the property would bring when offered for sale by a person who is willing but not obligated to sell it, and is bought by a person who is willing to purchase it but who is not forced to do so.

Includes the land itself and all growing crops, buildings, structures, improvements and fixtures on the land. It also includes all rights and privileges belonging or related to the land.

Under Missouri's Constitution, all assessments for property tax purposes must be based upon market value and be uniform within the same class or subclass of property.

Over time, the value of property may change, depending upon its nature, location, and other factors. Some values change more rapidly than others. Reassessment is the only way to be sure that the taxpayer is being taxed fairly, and is taxed the same as other comparable property.


Yes. By state law, your tax obligation is established on January 1. Even if you move out-of-state the next day, you are still obligated to pay Missouri taxes for the year. State law makes no provision for prorating your tax bill.

A duplicate paid personal property tax receipt may be obtained from the Collector"s office for a fee of $1.00.

The tax responsibility goes to the owner of record on January 1. If property is jointly owned, and the court order dissolving the marriage does not address the tax liability, both parties are jointly responsible for taxes. Neither party can obtain a statement of no taxes due until the tax liability is satisfied.


Tours are available of the County Courthouse by contacting the County Clerk's office at 271-1412. Please let us know the number of students/people in your group and what you are interested in learning about (i.e. history, architecture, county government).

First, contact the Buchanan County Assessor's office at 816-271-1471 to discuss your reason for an appeal, and reach an agreement.  

If an agreement cannot be reached, you may file an appeal with the Buchanan County Board of Equalization.  Complete the Property Tax Assessment Appeal Form and mail, fax or email the completed form to the Buchanan County Clerk's office.  An appointment will be set up with you and the Buchanan County Board of Equalization to discuss your appeal.

Servers in St. Joseph, Missouri will need to contact the St. Joseph Police Department Records Division at 816-271-4076.

An Auctioneer License may be obtained by applying through the County Clerk's Office. The Auctioneer License application can be found in the "Helpful Documents" tab of our website. Call the County Clerk's office at 271-1412 if you have any questions. Please see the fee chart below:

License fees are:

10 Day - $5.00

1 Month - $10.00

3 Months - $20.00

6 Months - $30.00

12 Months - $50.00

A $2.00 fee applies to each license. We accept cash, money orders, or checks made payable to Buchanan County Clerk (we currently do not have the ability to process payments with a debit/credit card).

Who can sign up?

In order to vote, citizens living in Missouri must register to vote. Any U.S.citizen 17 years and 6 months of age or older, if a Missouri resident, may register in the state. The following are the only exceptions:

  1. A person who is adjudged incapacitated
  2. A person who is confined under sentence of imprisonment
  3. A person who is on probation or parole after a conviction of a Felony until final discharge
  4. A person after conviction of a felony or misdemeanor connected with the right of suffrage (RSMo 115.133)

How and where can I register to vote?

Qualified citizens may register in person at the County Clerk’s Office, by mail, on the Secretary of State's website, or at the Driver's License Bureau. You become registered by completing a form with identity and residence information and qualifications that are signed and sworn to, then witnessed by the election authority or designated deputy.

You must be 18 years of age by the day of a particular election to be eligible to vote in that election. Also, you must be registered by the 4th Wednesday preceding an election to be eligible to vote in that election.

Register to vote here!

A limited number of birth and death records for the period of 1883-1893 are kept in the County Clerk's office. Please contact the Clerk's Office at 271-1412 if the records you need are within those years. WE DO NOT HAVE RECORDS FOR ANY OTHER YEARS HERE IN THE COURTHOUSE. PLEASE SEE THE LIST BELOW AND USE OUR HELPFUL LINKS TO CONTACT OTHER AGENCIES: * Birth Records after 1910- Contact Patee Hall at (816) 271-4636. * Birth Records from 1891-1909- Contact the St. Joseph Public Library at (816) 232-8151 * All Death Certificates- Contact Vital Records at (573) 751-6387 *Genealogy Information- Contact NW Missouri Genealogy Society at (816) 233-0524 or check out their website.

Northwest Missouri Genealogy Society

Curbside Voting:

If you have limited mobility you may be able to vote "curbside" or outside the polling place. You should go to your polling place and ask someone to go in and ask poll workers to bring a ballot out to you. The poll workers will bring you out a ballot to fill out.

Accessible Voting Systems:

At every federal election, every polling place must have an accessible voting system for individuals with disabilities including audiovisual accessibility. Accessible systems include an audio ballot to make selections or the ability to enlarge text so that you can read the on-screen ballot with ease.

Permanent Absentee Voting:

If you have a permanent physical disability you may request to be placed on a designated list so an absentee ballot application will be mailed to you automatically to you prior to each election.

Personal Assistance:

If you cannot read or write, are blind or have another physical disability and cannot vote your ballot, you may choose to bring in a person to help you vote. Your assistant does not have to be over the age of 18 or have to be registered to vote. Additionally, a bipartisan team of poll workers can assist you upon request.

For notary applicants who have been approved and bonded by the Secretary of State's office, you will need to appear in person at the County Clerk's office to complete qualifying for your commission. First, please call our office at 271-1412 to verify your Commission Certificate has been received by our office. You will need to bring the following items:

1) $10,000 surety bond to insure your four-year term as a notary public

2) $6.00- cash or check made out to the Buchanan County Clerk's office (we currently do not have the ability to take payment by debit/credit card)

If you have not qualified with the Secretary of State's Office, then please see the link below to learn how to become a notary. How to Become a Notary

To apply for a NEW BUSINESS Liquor License: •Must have a copy of State liquor license. To apply for your state Liquor License go to . Once you have your state license(s), fill out the application and mail along with a copy of your state liquor license(s) and the applicable fee to: Buchanan County Clerk 411 Jules Street, Room 121 St. Joseph, MO 64501. If you have any questions you can call the County Clerk's office at (816) 271-1412. The County Liquor License application is in the "Helpful Documents" section of the webpage.

State Liquor License applications