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Criminal Records in North Dakota

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Need more information? Check out our guides to North Dakota arrest records and North Dakota background checks.


An individual acquires a criminal record in North Dakota when they are arrested and fingerprinted by law enforcement personnel in the state. From then on, a North Dakota criminal record is updated with each subsequent arrest and the resulting dispositions. Local law enforcement agencies and the North Dakota court system forward criminal history information to the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation, which maintains the state’s central repository for criminal records.  

Although North Dakota does not provide a searchable online database of criminal history information to the public, requesting a criminal history check under your name or the name of another person in the state is a relatively simple process.  

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 North Dakota, criminal records are available for public access if the proper information is submitted to the BCI. 

What is included in a North Dakota criminal record?

As criminal records are kept by law enforcement agencies at all levels of government in the United States, a North Dakota criminal record may vary in format and content depending on the law enforcement database from which it is accessed.

Generally, a North Dakota 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
  • Past and outstanding arrest warrants
  • Pending and dismissed charges

Why would someone access a criminal record?

There are many reasons to access a criminal record.

  • Most commonly, people search criminal records as a way to run a background check on a particular person.
  • They’re also used by law enforcement to identify or locate people involved in unsolved crimes or by the court system to determine an appropriate sentence after a conviction. 
  • An individual may want to access his or her own record as well. It’s not uncommon for people to request their own criminal records to see what information is public.
  • In some cases, a record could be inaccurate or include outdated information. If that’s the case, it’s important to have the record corrected.

What’s the difference between an infraction, misdemeanor, and felony?

Arrests and convictions listed on a criminal record are separated into three categories: infractions, misdemeanors, and felonies.

To give a better understanding of the information listed on a criminal record, here’s a quick overview of each category of offense:

  • Infraction – An infraction is a minor violation of the law that is regulated at the state level. Punishment for an infraction is usually just a fine or a written warning, rather than a jail or prison sentence. Examples of infractions include minor traffic violations, public nuisance offenses, and littering. 
  • Misdemeanor – A misdemeanor is a crime that is more serious than an infraction, yet less serious than a felony. Generally, a misdemeanor punishable by a term of imprisonment of less than a year, or by a term of probation. An individual convicted of a misdemeanor is more likely to serve time in a county or local jail than in a federal or state prison. Examples of misdemeanors include driving under the influence, most drug abuse violations, and petty theft.
  • Felony – A felony is the most serious type of crime, often characterized by the use of a weapon during a crime, serious injury to a victim, and/or holding a person against their will. Felony convictions typically result in a term of imprisonment of more than one year in a state or federal prison. Examples of felonies include rape, murder, and grand theft.  

What is the difference between a North Dakota arrest record and a North Dakota criminal record?

While 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. 

How do I request a criminal record check in North Dakota?

In North Dakota, a person may perform a name-based criminal record check on themself or another person by submitting an official request to the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

Follow these steps to perform a name-based criminal record check in North Dakota:

  1. Fill out a Request for Criminal History Record Information form. If the subject is another person, you will need to fill out their full name, date of birth, social security number (or alternately, provide the subject’s fingerprints), and current address. An authorization form signed by the subject may substitute for the individual’s current address.
  2. Prepare a $15 fee payment in the form of a check or money order payable to “ND Attorney General” (cash not accepted). 
    1. Non-profit organizations are eligible for a reduced $5 fee. In order to pay a reduced fee, you must complete and submit an application with the request. 
  3. Mail the request form, payment, and any additional documents to:

Criminal Records Section

North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation

4205 State Street

PO Box 1054

Bismarck, ND 58502-1054

The criminal record check takes between 7-10 business days to process. The BCI also allows for fingerprint-based record checks and national FBI record checks. Visit this page for further information.  

How do I obtain a physical copy of a North Dakota criminal record?

If a criminal record exists for the subject of a criminal record check, a physical copy of the criminal record will be mailed to the address listed on your application. 

Why can’t I access a North Dakota criminal record?

In the case that a criminal history record check yields no results, the subject may have no criminal record in North Dakota, or the record may be under a different name. Another possibility is that the record may have been sealed.  

How do I search for North Dakota criminal case court records?

The State of North Dakota Courts offer an online search tool called North Dakota Courts Records Inquiry that may be used to search the court records of any county or district court in the state. Here’s how to use the search:

  1. Select a court from the drop-down menu. 
  2. Choose Criminal/Traffic, Civil, Family & Probate Case Records, Judgements Search, or Court Calender. 
  3. From there, you may search court records by case number, party, attorney, or date filed. 

Does North Dakota allow criminal records to be sealed or expunged?

In 2019, North Dakota passed a law (HB1246) that allows persons to petition to have conviction records sealed from public access. Before this law, there was no general process for sealing a criminal conviction in the state. 

Here’s some basic information on who may apply to have criminal convictions sealed in North Dakota:

  • Those convicted of non-violent felonies or misdemeanors may apply to seal conviction records after a 3-5 year waiting period
  • Those convicted of a violent felony must wait 10 years after satisfying sentencing terms. 
  • Any person registered as a violent sex offender is not eligible to have criminal convictions sealed in North Dakota.  

In order to apply to have criminal convictions sealed, a person must file a Petition to Seal in the original criminal court that processed the case. If the individual presents a good cause and satisfies certain obligations, the petition may be passed by the court. Visit this page (read Section III) for an explanation of the procedure. 

How can I have false information on a North Dakota criminal record corrected?

If you believe your North Dakota has incorrect information or has arrests and/or convictions falsely attributed to you, contact the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation at (701) 328-5500 and ask for instructions on how to submit a criminal record challenge. 

How long are North Dakota criminal records kept on file?

Criminal history information is kept in North Dakota’s central repository indefinitely unless the subject of the criminal record successfully petitions to have convictions sealed in the original criminal court that processed the case (see the section on sealing and expungement).