There are several ways the public can access criminal records in Minnesota and the method chosen depends on whether the search is for yourself or a search on someone else’s record. It also depends on whether it is required to do a fingerprint search or if an informal name search is enough.
Most people must get a certified background check based on fingerprints in order to do most of the common things that require such checks such as getting a professional license, adopting, or getting a work visa. Most of these types of entities will not accept a name-based check.
Those who want to get a criminal records check on someone else can do that online at the Minnesota Public Criminal History Record Search Website through a name search. That requires a full legal name and birthdate but is free.
A private criminal background check can also be done on someone else’s name. However, an informed consent form is required to do that.
Victims and offender’s families can also check on the status of a convict through the Minnesota Department of Corrections offender search engine. Those looking will need some basic information such as their name or offender id number to search.
What is a criminal record?
A criminal record is an official document detailing a person’s criminal convictions, pending criminal cases, prior arrests, and other interactions with law enforcement agencies. Additional names for a criminal record include criminal history record, rap sheet, and a police record.
As with marriage records and court records, criminal records are generally public records in the United States and can be accessed through a criminal background check. However, public access to specific criminal record information varies from state to state.
In the State of Minnesota, criminal records are available both online, in person, and by mail
What is included in a Minnesota criminal record?
As criminal records are kept by law enforcement agencies at all levels of government in the United States, a Minnesota criminal record may vary in format and content depending on the law enforcement database from which it is accessed.
Generally, a Minnesota criminal record will include the following information:
- A person’s full name and possible aliases
- Personal information such as age, date of birth, sex, ethnicity, height, weight, and other physical characteristics
- Fingerprints and mugshot
- Misdemeanor criminal offenses and convictions
- Felony criminal offenses and convictions
- Traffic records
- Past and outstanding arrest warrants
- Prior arrests
- Pending and dismissed charges
Why would someone access a criminal record?
There are several reasons someone may want to get a copy of criminal records:
- Attorneys sometimes request them before taking on a client or to pursue a case in court.
- The most common reasons for getting a criminal background check are to get trade licensing, adoptions, and work visas.
- There are a number of professions that require a background check in order to get a license or to get bonded. Some of those include nurses, doctors, teachers, child care workers, elder care workers, and construction workers.
Additionally, many charities require a background check for anyone who volunteers. All of these types of background checks are simple to get in Minnesota.
What’s the difference between an infraction, misdemeanor, and felony?
When you access a criminal record, the person listed on the record may have an offense listed. Criminal offenses are usually broken into three categories: Infractions, misdemeanors, and felonies.
An infraction is a minor violation, a misdemeanor is more serious, and a felony is the most serious type of crime.
To better understand the information listed on a criminal record, here’s a quick overview of each offense and its severity:
- Infraction: A small traffic violation or littering are considered infractions. An infraction is a minor violation of the law. Usually, punishments are a warning or a fine. Typically, no jail time is associated with an infraction.
- Misdemeanor: If someone were to get a DUI or a drug violation, it’s considered a misdemeanor. A misdemeanor is more serious than an infraction but less severe than a felony. Jail time of less than a year or probation are usually associated with these types of crimes. Likely, the offender will do time in a local or county jail.
- Felony: Murder, rape, and arson are considered felony charges. A felony is the most serious type of crime. Offenders are typically sentenced to jail for more than a year and are likely held in a state or federal facility.
What is the difference between a Minnesota arrest record and a Minnesota criminal record?
An arrest record is an official document including the details of a specific arrest. A criminal record is a more comprehensive document that includes a person’s entire criminal background known to law enforcement agencies.
Both types of documents are usually public records in the United States, although information about specific arrests may be sealed and rendered inaccessible to the public for a variety of reasons.
Whether an arrest record or a criminal record is accessed, the information listed is for state crimes only. If a person is involved in a federal crime, this information is not listed on a state record.
How do I search for a Minnesota criminal record?
There are three ways to search for a criminal record in Minnesota.
- The place to begin a search online at the Minnesota Public Criminal History Record Search. There, the person searching can do a name search on themselves or anyone else. Those searching by name will need the full legal name and a birthdate to do the search. Those wanting a full fingerprint check would need to go by the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) in St. Paul to make a request. Typically, a fingerprint scan is required in these types of requests.
- People can also do name searches for free by using a public computer in the lobby.
- People wanting a criminal search on themselves can also make the request by mail to the BCA. Those who are conducting a private search on someone else must make that request by mail and include an informed consent form.
How do I obtain a physical copy of a Minnesota criminal record?
Those looking for criminal records can get them as a physical copy through any of the methods available. Online information can be printed and the BCA can provide physical copies of criminal records either in person or through the mail. Be prepared to pay a fee for labor and copying.
How do I search for Minnesota criminal case court records?
Those who want to know about certain cases can use Minnesota Public Access (MPA) Remote to get information. MPA Remote is a computerized case management system used by Minnesota District Courts to keep track of cases.
However, anyone using the remote site must remember it is a service and not an official court record. These records can be printed out but aren’t certified so they can’t be used in some legal situations. The remote service also doesn’t accept any responsibility for errors and omissions.
For those who have trouble finding records online, you can also request records from a court clerk in the courthouse where the case was heard. In many cases, a formal request form must be filled out, but the records can be pulled and mailed to a home address or emailed.
Those who need a certified copy of court records must contact the court where the case was tried and request a certified copy. There will be a fee for labor and copying, but fees among the different courts may vary.
Does Minnesota allow criminal records to be sealed or expunged?
Yes, Minnesota allows for some criminal records to be expunged or seals. In this state, the term expungement is the same with sealing. The process includes before a judge to ask a record be sealed. The record is not destroyed but is hidden from public view. Even so, certain people including law enforcement, the FBI, immigration officers, and other public officials can see the record even though the public can’t view it.
Most seek to seal their records because their past has cost them employment, housing, or a professional license.
How can I have false information on a Minnesota criminal record corrected?
Every state must allow a process for people to petition to remove false information from their criminal records. First, a person must obtain their criminal record to find any errors. The biggest challenge is to document your proof of the falsehood.
Many times, errors in criminal records occur by the wrong birth date or address being reported. Sometimes a name gets confused with another person of a similar name. These types of errors can be pretty simple to correct with proper identification and other proof of identity.
Other records that may be important to correct falsehoods are available at the court where the case was tried. These certified records will have the correct information. Once everything is gathered, copies can be taken or sent to the proper state authority for correction. The Clerk of Court in local courthouses can give more information on where to send it and should have any forms required for the process.
In some states, the petitioner files their request with the local court and requests corrections from a judge.
How long are Minnesota criminal records kept on file?
Minnesota keeps information on criminal convictions for 15 years.