What is a Criminal Record in Minnesota?
Minnesota criminal records, also called rap sheets, provide a comprehensive overview of an individual’s criminal history. They contain data compiled from local, county, and state agencies. This includes courts, law enforcement departments, and state correctional facilities. While the standard for criminal record collection varies from county to county, most Minnesota criminal records are organized in online record depositories jointly managed by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA).
Are Criminal Records Public in Minnesota?
Yes, criminal records are considered public information in Minnesota. The Freedom of Information Act makes criminal records and information about arrests available to the general public. However, this does not include sealed juvenile records or court orders sealing some criminal charges.
The Public Records Act does not restrict who can request access to records, so anyone can request access to arrests and convictions from the appropriate law enforcement agency. Under Minnesota law, access to criminal records is either open access or limited access. The state has determined that open access to criminal records is in the public's best interests, while limited access protects the privacy rights of victims and witnesses.
Public criminal records offer information on criminal activities committed by an individual. Most criminal records contain general information such as:
- Individual’s name
- Date of birth
- Disposition of all warrants
- Physical descriptors
- Details of the arrest
- Crime summary
- Details of the conviction (name of a criminal offense)
Criminal records, considered public in the United States, are made available through some third-party aggregate sites. Searching with third-party websites is often easier as the information is not limited to geographic record availability. Information found on third-party websites can serve as a jumping off point for parties searching for a specific record or multiple records. Typically, requesters must provide the following information to gain access to these records:
- The record subject’s name, unless the subject is a juvenile.
- The record subject’s last known location, including cities, counties, and states.
Third-party websites offer these search services, but they are not government sponsored. Availability of records may vary.
How to Obtain Criminal Records in Minnesota?
Record holders as well as residents can request for criminal records in Minnesota. Keep in mind that only the record holder will be granted access to both private and public information on the record. Free public criminal record checks are available to state residents. However, confidential and sensitive information are omitted from these free records.
Requesters may visit or mail the BCA (Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension) to obtain copies of criminal records:
Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension
1430 Maryland Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55106
Interested persons may also use the online criminal record search database to find information on convicted individuals in Minnesota. On demand court records also reveal details of individuals’ criminal history. To obtain these court records, visit the Court Case Search platform provided by the Minnesota Judicial Branch.
What are Arrest Records in Minnesota?
Minnesota arrest records provide information about a subject’s arrest history. It documents if a subject has been questioned, taken into custody, apprehended, or arrested or investigated. Arrest records may also detail the charges leading to the arrest. In the state of Minnesota, a person can be arrested once they commit a misdemeanor, a felony or a repeated traffic violation. Although arrest records are included within police records, police records are not present in arrest records. Police records include police reports, activity logs, and incident reports.
Are Arrest Records Public in Minnesota?
Yes. Minnesota law requires that all arrest records are public. Arrest records are kept in the custody of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. Arrests that occur within municipal limits must be reported within 24 hours, and arrests that occur outside municipal limits must be reported within 48 hours.
Police departments maintain public arrest records for individuals who have been arrested in their jurisdiction, while law enforcement agencies maintain arrest records for individuals who have been arrested outside their jurisdiction. To perform an arrest search, it is important to know where the arrest occurred. Free arrest records can typically be obtained by interested persons.
What are Arrest Warrants in Minnesota?
A Minnesota arrest warrant is an official document that is signed and issued by a judge or magistrate on behalf of the local and state law enforcement department. It authorizes a police officer to arrest or detain the person or people named in the warranty. In Minnesota, police officers are permitted to make warrantless arrests. This often occurs when the officer has reasonable cause to suspect a person has committed a crime or witnessed a person committing a crime. Minnesota does not have a database to run a warrant search throughout the whole state. However, parties may use the DEA Fugitive Search tool and the U.S. Marshall's Warrant Information System. Parties can explore local county sheriff's websites to run a local active warrant search.
What are Minnesota Inmate Records?
Minnesota inmate records provide official information about offenders booked or incarcerated in correctional facilities within the state. Public information on inmates can be accessed in person by visiting the department. Alternatively, inmate lookup is available online via the inmate search maintained by the Minnesota Department of Correction. Some of the details provided in an inmate record include:
- Offender’s name
- Physical descriptors
- Incarceration date
- Date of birth
- Details of the inmate’s offense
- Inmate photo (mugshot)
- Expected date of release
What Is The Minnesota Sex Offender Registry?
A sex offender listing is a registry of persons convicted of committing a sex crime in Minnesota. Megan's Law is a general term used to describe the state laws that govern the creation, access ad administration of Minnesota’s sex offender registry. It ensures that information on registered sex offenders is available to the public. The state maintains and provides public access to the Minnesota Predatory Offender Search by the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. Members of the public may conduct searches by city, county, or zip code. Residents can also search through registrants by zip code. Under Minnesota law, sexual battery and assault are referred to as “predatory offense.” The prosecution need not prove that the victim resisted the sexual conduct to convict a person charged with any of the crimes of criminal sexual conduct. Some of the information provided in a search offender listing include:
- Offender’s name
- Physical descriptors
- MNDOC ID
- Release date
- Convicted offense
- Registered address
What are DWIs in Minnesota?
A DWI, also known as drunk driving or DUI, violates Minnesota Statute 169A.20, which makes it illegal for road users to operate motor vehicles if they are impaired by alcohol or drugs. A DWI in Minnesota is considered a serious traffic violation. Motorists are considered impaired by the law if their blood alcohol content (BAC) is .08 or higher based on one test at the time of the arrest.
A person's BAC is calculated and recorded, and it is based on how much blood the person has, the amount of alcohol in that blood, and how long it has been since they consumed alcohol. The more alcohol a person has in their body at the time of a test, the higher their BAC will be. A driver's BAC level can change as more time passes after they drink.
A second test taken within two hours after arrest shows the amount of the driver's intoxicants in their system. A jury may not convict a driver for a violation if their BAC is .08 and was not over .15 at the time of the arrest. If it is found that the driver's BAC was under .15 at the time of arrest, then there is no legal basis to convict them for a DUI. A DWI crime is a misdemeanor, and the punishment can range from probation to jail time and fines, depending on the number of previous convictions and the seriousness of the crime.
What are Misdemeanors in Minnesota?
In the state of Minnesota, misdemeanors and felonies are defined under Section 609.02 of MN Statutes. Misdemeanors refer to offenses that are generally less severe than felonies. The seriousness of the crime is distinguished by factors such as the cash value of the property damage/theft or the seriousness of the personal injury. Unlike most states in the country, Minnesota does not use a class system to divide misdemeanor offenses. Instead, misdemeanors are categorized as petty misdemeanors, misdemeanors, or gross misdemeanors.
- Gross misdemeanors are the most serious kind of misdemeanor crimes in Minnesota. They’re punishable by up to a year in jail and/or $3,000 in fines.
- Misdemeanors are the second most severe type of misdemeanor offenses, punishable by up to 90 days in jail and/or a fine of $1,000
- Petty misdemeanors are the least serious type of crimes and carry a fine of up to $300
Some misdemeanor examples in Minnesota include:
- Criminal neglect of a vulnerable adult
- Assault in the fifth degree
- Driving while intoxicated (DWI)
- Assault of a peace officer
What is a Felony?
Felony offenses are crimes that carry a minimum sentence of one year to be served in a county jail or state prison. Felony convictions may even be punished by death. Crimes that are not defined as felonies may be charged as a felony if the offender has certain prior convictions. Unlike the legislature in some states, Minnesota laws do not categorize felonies into different classes. Instead, the state’s statute provides penalties and possible sentences for different felonies. Examples of crimes that are considered to be felonies include:
- Domestic Assault
- Criminal sexual assault in the first degree
- Murder in the first degree
- Crimes related to a controlled substance (fifth degree)
What is Probation and Parole in Minnesota?
Parole records in Minnesota are an official document that includes information about the release of a prisoner who agreed to certain conditions before completion of their maximum sentence. While the prisoner is on supervised parole, the board shall need as a condition of parole that he/she pays a monthly supervision fee of not less than $30, unless the board agrees to accept a lower fee after determining the inability of the prisoner to pay. The board may also impose any conditions of parole it seems right to make sure the best interests of the prisoner and the citizens of Minnesota are served.
Probation records are official documents that provide the details and conditions linked with a person’s probation. It contains general information such as:
- Details of the supervision during probation
- The duration of the probation
- The amount to be repaid
- The frequency of check-ins with a probation officer
Probation records fall under the umbrella of public records, which means they can be accessed by almost any member of the public. There are however exceptions. Probation records for juveniles remain sealed until the offender is an adult. Guardians and parents of minors out on probation may be able to secure these records.
What are Juvenile Criminal Records?
Juvenile criminal records provide an official record of information about criminal activity committed by minors or adolescents who are not yet of legal adult age. Although cases for this group falls under the jurisdiction of the Minnesota Juvenile Justice system, exceptions may be made for some cases, such as when a minor is being accused of a particularly dangerous offense.
Although juvenile records in Minnesota are protected from most members of the public, they still remain open to inspection by a group of people, some of which may include:
- The youth
- Parents or guardians of the youth
- Judge of court
- Individuals intervening on behalf of the unit during a proceeding
- The DA’s office
- The Juvenile department
- Service providers on the case
Access to juvenile records isn’t as direct as public criminal records. In most cases, individuals or organizations seeking access to juvenile records may be required to obtain court permission. This will involve making a showing of good cause. Juvenile records may also be open to the public in cases where a juvenile is charged with a crime that would be a major felony if committed by an adult.
What are Conviction Records?
A conviction record provides information about the results of a trial. It reveals if the subject pleads guilty, was found guilty or pleaded no contest to criminal charges in a civilian or military court. Conviction records also include information on persons who are judged delinquent and less than honorably discharged or placed on probation, fined, imprisoned or paroled. A criminal conviction is rendered by either a jury of peers or a judge in a court of law.
Minnesota History and Accuracy of Criminal Records
The accuracy of criminal records data largely depends on the recordkeeping and technological capabilities of the jurisdiction where the record was assembled and later digitized. Minnesota criminal records archives usually tend to go back as far as the early 1970s—which is when different institutions began to compile criminal and arrest data into an organized, centralized database, much like we use today. Accuracy was more commonly affected by human error in the past. However, in the 1990s the quality and accuracy of recordkeeping improved exponentially due to the advent of digital storage options.