Article I – Bill of Rights

Source of political power–origin, basis and aim of government.

Section 1. That all political power is vested in and derived from the people; that all government of right originates from the people, is founded upon their will only, and is instituted solely for the good of the whole.

Source: Const. of 1875, Art. II, § 1.

Promotion of general welfare–natural rights of persons–equality under the law–purpose of government.

Section 2. That all constitutional government is intended to promote the general welfare of the people; that all persons have a natural right to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and the enjoyment of the gains of their own industry; that all persons are created equal and are entitled to equal rights and opportunity under the law; that to give security to these things is the principal office of government, and that when government does not confer this security, it fails in its chief design.

Source: Const. of 1875, Art. II, § 4.

Powers of the people over internal affairs, constitution, and form of government.

Section 3. That the people of this state have the inherent, sole and exclusive right to regulate the internal government and police thereof, and to alter and abolish their constitution and form of government whenever they may deem it necessary to their safety and happiness, provided such change be not repugnant to the Constitution of the United States.

Source: Const. of 1875, Art. II, § 2.

Independence of Missouri–submission of certain amendments to Constitution of the United States.

Section 4. That Missouri is a free and independent state, subject only to the Constitution of the United States; that all proposed amendments to the Constitution of the United States qualifying or affecting the individual liberties of the people or which in any wise may impair the right of local self-government belonging to the people of this state should be submitted to conventions of the people.

Source: Const. of 1875, Art. II, § 3.

Religious freedom–liberty of conscience and belief–limitations– right to pray–academic religious freedoms and prayer.

Section 5. That all men and women have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences; that no human authority can control or interfere with the rights of conscience; that no person shall, on account of his or her religious persuasion or belief, be rendered ineligible to any public office or trust or profit in this state, be disqualified from testifying or serving as a juror, or be molested in his or her person or estate; that to secure a citizen’s right to acknowledge Almighty God according to the dictates of his or her own conscience, neither the state nor any of its political subdivisions shall establish any official religion, nor shall a citizen’s right to pray or express his or her religious beliefs be infringed; that the state shall not coerce any person to participate in any prayer or other religious activity, but shall ensure that any person shall have the right to pray individually or corporately in a private or public setting so long as such prayer does not result in disturbance of the peace or disruption of a public meeting or assembly; that citizens as well as elected officials and employees of the state of Missouri and its political subdivisions shall have the right to pray on government premises and public property so long as such prayers abide within the same parameters placed upon any other free speech under similar circumstances; that the General Assembly and the governing bodies of political subdivisions may extend to ministers, clergypersons, and other individuals the privilege to offer invocations or other prayers at meetings or sessions of the General Assembly or governing bodies; that students may express their beliefs about religion in written and oral assignments free from discrimination based on the religious content of their work; that no student shall be compelled to perform or participate in academic assignments or educational presentations that violate his or her religious beliefs; that the state shall ensure public school students their right to free exercise of religious expression without interference, as long as such prayer or other expression is private and voluntary, whether individually or corporately, and in a manner that is not disruptive and as long as such prayers or expressions abide within the same parameters placed upon any other free speech under similar circumstances; and, to emphasize the right to free exercise of religious expression, that all free public schools receiving state appropriations shall display, in a conspicuous and legible manner, the text of the Bill of Rights of the Constitution of the United States; but this section shall not be construed to expand the rights of prisoners in state or local custody beyond those afforded by the laws of the United States, excuse acts of licentiousness, nor to justify practices inconsistent with the good order, peace or safety of the state, or with the rights of others.

Source: Const. of 1875, Art. II, § 5.

(Amended August 7, 2012)

Practice and support of religion not compulsory–contracts therefore enforceable.

Section 6. That no person can be compelled to erect, support or attend any place or system of worship, or to maintain or support any priest, minister, preacher or teacher of any sect, church, creed or denomination of religion; but if any person shall voluntarily make a contract for any such object, he shall be held to the performance of the same.

Source: Const. of 1875, Art. II, § 6.

Public aid for religious purposes–preferences and discriminations on religious grounds.

Section 7. That no money shall ever be taken from the public treasury, directly or indirectly, in aid of any church, sect or denomination of religion, or in aid of any priest, preacher, minister or teacher thereof, as such; and that no preference shall be given to nor any discrimination made against any church, sect or creed of religion, or any form of religious faith or worship.

Source: Const. of 1875, Art. II, § 7.

Freedom of speech–evidence of truth in defamation actions–province of jury.

Section 8. That no law shall be passed impairing the freedom of speech, no matter by what means communicated: that every person shall be free to say, write or publish, or otherwise communicate whatever he will on any subject, being responsible for all abuses of that liberty; and that in all suits and prosecutions for libel or slander the truth thereof may be given in evidence; and in suits and prosecutions for libel the jury, under the direction of the court, shall determine the law and the facts.

Source: Const. of 1875, Art. II, § 14.

Rights of peaceable assembly and petition.

Section 9. That the people have the right peaceably to assemble for their common good, and to apply to those invested with the powers of government for redress of grievances by petition or remonstrance.

Source: Const. of 1875, Art. II, § 29.

Due process of law.

Section 10. That no person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law.

Source: Const. of 1875, Art. II, § 30.

Imprisonment for debt.

Section 11. That no person shall be imprisoned for debt, except for nonpayment of fines and penalties imposed by law.

Source: Const. of 1875, Art. II, § 16.

Habeas corpus.

Section 12. That the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall never be suspended.

Source: Const. of 1875, Art. II, § 26.

Ex post facto laws–impairment of contracts–irrevocable privileges.

Section 13. That no ex post facto law, nor law impairing the obligation of contracts, or retrospective in its operation, or making any irrevocable grant of special privileges or immunities, can be enacted.

Source: Const. of 1875, Art II, § 15.

(2013) Constitutional prohibition against enacting a law retrospective in its operation applies only to laws affecting civil rights and remedies and does not apply to criminal statutes. State v. Honeycutt, 421 S.W.3d 410 (Mo.banc).

Open courts–certain remedies–justice without sale, denial, or delay.

Section 14. That the courts of justice shall be open to every person, and certain remedy afforded for every injury to person, property or character, and that right and justice shall be administered without sale, denial or delay.

Source: Const. of 1875, Art. II § 10.

Unreasonable search and seizure prohibited–contents and basis of warrants.

Section 15. That the people shall be secure in their persons, papers, homes, effects, and electronic communications and data, from unreasonable searches and seizures; and no warrant to search any place, or seize any person or thing, or access electronic data or communication, shall issue without describing the place to be searched, or the person or thing to be seized, or the data or communication to be accessed, as nearly as may be; nor without probable cause, supported by written oath or affirmation.

Source: Const. of 1875, Art. II, § 11.

(Amended August 5, 2014)

Grand juries–composition–jurisdiction to convene–powers.

Section 16. That a grand jury shall consist of twelve citizens, any nine of whom concurring may find an indictment or a true bill: Provided, that no grand jury shall be convened except upon an order of a judge of a court having the power to try and determine felonies; but when so assembled such grand jury shall have power to investigate and return indictments for all character and grades of crime; and that the power of grand juries to inquire into the willful misconduct in office of public officers, and to find indictments in connection therewith, shall never be suspended.

Source: Const. of 1875, Art. II, § 28 (Amended November 6, 1900).

Indictments and informations in criminal cases–exceptions.

Section 17. That no person shall be prosecuted criminally for felony or misdemeanor otherwise than by indictment or information, which shall be concurrent remedies, but this shall not be applied to cases arising in the land or naval forces or in the militia when in actual service in time of war or public danger, nor to prevent arrests and preliminary examination in any criminal case.

Source: Const. of 1875, Art. II, § 12 (Amended November 6, 1900), and Sch. of 1875 and § 17.

Rights of accused in criminal prosecutions.

Section 18(a). That in criminal prosecutions the accused shall have the right to appear and defend, in person and by counsel; to demand the nature and cause of the accusation; to meet the witnesses against him face to face; to have process to compel the attendance of witnesses in his behalf; and a speedy public trial by an impartial jury of the county.

Source: Const. of 1875, Art. II, § 22.

Depositions in felony cases.

Section 18(b). Upon a hearing and finding by the circuit court in any case wherein the accused is charged with a felony, that it is necessary to take the deposition of any witness within the state, other than defendant and spouse, in order to preserve the testimony, and on condition that the court make such orders as will fully protect the rights of personal confrontation and cross-examination of the witness by defendant, the state may take the deposition of such witness and either party may use the same at the trial, as in civil cases, provided there has been substantial compliance with such orders. The reasonable personal and traveling expenses of defendant and his counsel shall be paid by the state or county as provided by law.

Source: Const. of 1945.

Admissibility of evidence.

Section 18(c). Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 17 and 18(a) of this article to the contrary, in prosecutions for crimes of a sexual nature involving a victim under eighteen years of age, relevant evidence of prior criminal acts, whether charged or uncharged, is admissible for the purpose of corroborating the victim’s testimony or demonstrating the defendant’s propensity to commit the crime with which he or she is presently charged. The court may exclude relevant evidence of prior criminal acts if the probative value of the evidence is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice.

(Adopted November 4, 2014).

Self-incrimination and double jeopardy.

Section 19. That no person shall be compelled to testify against himself in a criminal cause, nor shall any person be put again in jeopardy of life or liberty for the same offense, after being once acquitted by a jury; but if the jury fail to render a verdict the court may, in its discretion, discharge the jury and commit or bail the prisoner for trial at the same or next term of court; and if judgment be arrested after a verdict of guilty on a defective indictment or information, or if judgment on a verdict of guilty be reversed for error in law, the prisoner may be tried anew on a proper indictment or information, or according to the law.

Source: Const. of 1875, Art. II, § 23.

Bail guaranteed–exceptions.

Section 20. That all persons shall be bailable by sufficient sureties, except for capital offenses, when the proof is evident or the presumption great.

Source: Const. of 1875, Art. II, § 24.


Denial or conditions of bail may be set by court, Const. Art. I, § 32

Excessive bail and fines–cruel and unusual punishment.

Section 21. That excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishment inflicted.

Source: Const. of 1875, Art. II, § 25.

Right of trial by jury–qualification of jurors–two-thirds verdict.

Section 22(a). That the right of trial by jury as heretofore enjoyed shall remain inviolate; provided that a jury for the trial of criminal and civil cases in courts not of record may consist of less than twelve citizens as may be prescribed by law, and a two-thirds majority of such number concurring may render a verdict in all civil cases; that in all civil cases in courts of record, three-fourths of the members of the jury concurring may render a verdict; and that in every criminal case any defendant may, with the assent of the court, waive a jury trial and submit the trial of such case to the court, whose finding shall have the force and effect of a verdict of a jury.

Source: Const. of 1875, Art. II, § 28 (as amended November 6, 1900).

Female jurors–optional exemption.

Section 22(b). No citizen shall be disqualified from jury service because of sex, but the court shall excuse any woman who requests exemption therefrom before being sworn as a juror.

Source: Const. of 1945.

(1979) Missouri statute authorizing women to request automatic exemption from jury service violated “fair cross section” requirement of sixth amendment as applied to the states by the fourteenth amendment to the United States Constitution. Duren v. Missouri, 439 U.S. 357.

Right to keep and bear arms, ammunition, and certain accessories–exception–rights to be unalienable.

Section 23. That the right of every citizen to keep and bear arms, ammunition, and accessories typical to the normal function of such arms, in defense of his home, person, family and property, or when lawfully summoned in aid of the civil power, shall not be questioned. The rights guaranteed by this section shall be unalienable. Any restriction on these rights shall be subject to strict scrutiny and the state of Missouri shall be obligated to uphold these rights and shall under no circumstances decline to protect against their infringement. Nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent the general assembly from enacting general laws which limit the rights of convicted violent felons or those adjudicated by a court to be a danger to self or others as result of a mental disorder or mental infirmity.

Source: Const. of 1875, Art. II, § 17.

(Amended August 5, 2014)

(2016) Section does not prohibit the state legislature from regulating the possession of firearms by nonviolent felons. State v. Clay, 481 S.W.3d 531 (Mo.).

Subordination of military to civil power–quartering soldiers.

Section 24. That the military shall be always in strict subordination to the civil power; that no soldier shall be quartered in any house without the consent of the owner in time of peace, nor in time of war, except as prescribed by law.

Source: Const. of 1875, Art. II, § 27.

Elections and right of suffrage.

Section 25. That all elections shall be free and open; and no power, civil or military, shall at any time interfere to prevent the free exercise of the right of suffrage.

Source: Const. of 1875, Art. II, § 9.

Compensation for property taken by eminent domain–condemnation juries–payment–railroad property.

Section 26. That private property shall not be taken or damaged for public use without just compensation. Such compensation shall be ascertained by a jury or board of commissioners of not less than three freeholders, in such manner as may be provided by law; and until the same shall be paid to the owner, or into court for the owner, the property shall not be disturbed or the proprietary rights of the owner therein divested. The fee of land taken for railroad purposes without consent of the owner thereof shall remain in such owner subject to the use for which it is taken.

Source: Const. of 1875, Art. II, § 21.

(2016) Section does not apply to public entities whose property has been taken by another public entity. St. Louis Sewer Dist. v. Bellefontaine Nbrs., 476 S.W3d 913 (Mo.).

Acquisition of excess property by eminent domain–disposition under restrictions.

Section 27. That in such manner and under such limitations as may be provided by law, the state, or any county or city may acquire by eminent domain such property, or rights in property, in excess of that actually to be occupied by the public improvement or used in connection therewith, as may be reasonably necessary to effectuate the purposes intended, and may be vested with the fee simple title thereto, or the control of the use thereof, and may sell such excess property with such restrictions as shall be appropriate to preserve the improvements made.

Source: Const. of 1945.

Limitation on taking of private property for private use–exceptions –public use a judicial question.

Section 28. That private property shall not be taken for private use with or without compensation, unless by consent of the owner, except for private ways of necessity, and except for drains and ditches across the lands of others for agricultural and sanitary purposes, in the manner prescribed by law; and that when an attempt is made to take private property for a use alleged to be public, the question whether the contemplated use be public shall be judicially determined without regard to any legislative declaration that the use is public.

Source: Const. of 1875, Art. II, § 20.

Organized labor and collective bargaining.

Section 29. That employees shall have the right to organize and to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing.

Source: Const. of 1945.

(2007) Section applies to public employees as well as private sector employees. Independence-Nat’l Educ. Ass’n v. Independence Sch. Dist., 223 S.W.3d 131 (Mo. banc).

(2012) Section imposes on employers an affirmative duty to bargain collectively and, when necessary, to adopt procedures to participate in that process. Eastern Missouri Coalition of Police, Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 15, v. City of Chesterfield, 386 S.W.3d 755 (Mo. banc) (overruling Quinn v. Buchanan, 298 S.W.2d 413, Mo. banc 1957).

(2012) Duty to bargain collectively includes affirmative duty to meet and confer and negotiate in good faith. American Fed’n of Teachers v. Ledbetter, 387 S.W.3d 360 (Mo. banc).

Treason–attainder–corruption of blood and forfeitures–estate of suicides–death by casualty.

Section 30. That treason against the state can consist only in levying war against it, or in adhering to its enemies, giving them aid and comfort; that no person can be convicted of treason, unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on his confession in open court; that no person can be attainted of treason or felony by the general assembly; that no conviction can work corruption of blood or forfeiture of estate; that the estates of such persons as may destroy their own lives shall descend or vest as in cases of natural death; and when any person shall be killed by casualty, there shall be no forfeiture by reason thereof.

Source: Const. of 1875, Art. II, § 13.

Fines or imprisonments fixed by administrative agencies.

Section 31. That no law shall delegate to any commission, bureau, board or other administrative agency authority to make any rule fixing a fine or imprisonment as punishment for its violation.

Crime victims’ rights.

Section 32. 1. Crime victims, as defined by law, shall have the following rights, as defined by law:

(1) The right to be present at all criminal justice proceedings at which the defendant has such right, including juvenile proceedings where the offense would have been a felony if committed by an adult;

(2) Upon request of the victim, the right to be informed of and heard at guilty pleas, bail hearings, sentencings, probation revocation hearings, and parole hearings, unless in the determination of the court the interests of justice require otherwise;

(3) The right to be informed of trials and preliminary hearings;

(4) The right to restitution, which shall be enforceable in the same manner as any other civil cause of action, or as otherwise provided by law;

(5) The right to the speedy disposition and appellate review of their cases, provided that nothing in this subdivision shall prevent the defendant from having sufficient time to prepare his defense;

(6) The right to reasonable protection from the defendant or any person acting on behalf of the defendant;

(7) The right to information concerning the escape of an accused from custody or confinement, the defendant’s release and scheduling of the defendant’s release from incarceration; and

(8) The right to information about how the criminal justice system works, the rights and the availability of services, and upon request of the victim the right to information about the crime.

2. Notwithstanding section 20 of article I of this Constitution, upon a showing that the defendant poses a danger to a crime victim, the community, or any other person, the court may deny bail or may impose special conditions which the defendant and surety must guarantee.

3. Nothing in this section shall be construed as creating a cause of action for money damages against the state, a county, a municipality, or any of the agencies, instrumentalities, or employees provided that the General Assembly may, by statutory enactment, reverse, modify, or supersede any judicial decision or rule arising from any cause of action brought pursuant to this section.

4. Nothing in this section shall be construed to authorize a court to set aside or to void a finding of guilt, or an acceptance of a plea of guilty in any criminal case.

5. The general assembly shall have power to enforce this section by appropriate legislation.

(Adopted November 3, 1992).


Bail to be allowed, when, Const. Art. I § 20

Marriage, validity, and recognition.

Section 33. That to be valid and recognized in this state, a marriage shall exist only between a man and a woman.

(Adopted August 3, 2004).

(2015) The right to marry is a fundamental right inherent in the liberty of the person, and under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment couples of the same sex may not be deprived of that right and that liberty. Obergefell v. Hodges, 135 S.Ct. 2584.

English to be the official language in this state.

Section 34. That English shall be the language of all official proceedings in this state. Official proceedings shall be limited to any meeting of a public governmental body at which any public business is discussed, decided, or public policy formulated, whether such meeting is conducted in person or by means of communication equipment, including, but not limited to, conference call, video conference, Internet chat, or Internet message board. The term “official proceeding” shall not include an informal gathering of members of a public governmental body for ministerial or social purposes, but the term shall include a public vote of all or a majority of the members of a public governmental body, by electronic communication or any other means, conducted in lieu of holding an official proceeding with the members of the public governmental body gathered at one location in order to conduct public business.

(Adopted November 4, 2008).

Right to farm.

Section 35. That agriculture which provides food, energy, health benefits, and security is the foundation and stabilizing force of Missouri’s economy.  To protect this vital sector of Missouri’s economy, the right of farmers and ranchers to engage in farming and ranching practices shall be forever guaranteed in this state, subject to duly authorized powers, if any, conferred by article VI of the Constitution of Missouri.

(Adopted August 5, 2014).