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Criminal Records in South Dakota

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


A person acquires a criminal record in South Dakota the first time they get arrested and fingerprinted by law enforcement personnel in the state. From then on, any additional arrests and resulting criminal dispositions will be added to their criminal record. The state’s central repository of criminal history record information is maintained by the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation. 

South Dakota criminal records are not necessarily public record. However, an individual may request a copy of their own criminal record from the DCI by mail. Additionally, as of 2019, South Dakota criminal case courts are accessible to the general public from a home computer. 

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 Dakota, there is no searchable online database of criminal records and it is not easy to perform a background check on any person that you wish, yet individuals may request a copy of their own criminal record from the DCI. 

What is included in a South Dakota criminal record?

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

Generally, a South 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 South Dakota arrest record and a South 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 copy of my South Dakota criminal record?

A person may request a copy of their criminal record from the DCI by mailing in a request form, fingerprint card, and payment of $26.75.

Follow these steps to request a copy of your South Dakota criminal record:

  1. Call the DCI Identification Section at (605) 773-3331 and request a state applicant fingerprint card.
  2. Upon receiving the fingerprint card, take it to a local law enforcement agency office and have all 10 fingerprints taken on the card. There may be a fee for the service. 
  3. Fill out the fingerprint with all of the necessary information.
  4. Print, complete, and sign an Authorization and Release Form.
  5. Prepare a check or money order for $26.75
  6. Mail the authorization form, fingerprint card, and payment in an enclosed envelope to:

Office of the Attorney General

Division of Criminal Investigation

1302 E. Highway 14, Suite 5, Pierre, SD 57501

After the request is processed, the DCI will send a copy of your South Dakota criminal record if one exists in your name. The record will not include sealed records, juvenile offenses, traffic violations, or federal charges. 

View this page to see the procedure for requesting a nationwide FBI background check.

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

If a criminal record exists in your name in South Dakota, a physical copy will be sent to your address upon submission of a criminal record request. 

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

In most cases, an individual may not request the South Dakota criminal record of another person. If you request a copy of your own criminal record and one is not returned, it means that a criminal record does not exist in your name.  

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

The South Dakota Judicial System provides the fee-based UJS Public Record Search (PAR) service, which can be used to look up criminal cases from 1989 to the present and civil cases from 2003 to the present. 

For each search, there is a $20 fee. Sealed records and confidential records will not be returned by a search. 

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

There are circumstances in which arrests may be expunged from a South Dakota criminal record. However, South Dakota state law defines expungement to be more like “sealing”, since records are not completely destroyed in the process, merely sealed from public view.

 S.D Codified Laws 23A-3-27 states:

An arrested person may apply to the court that would have jurisdiction over the crime for which the person was arrested, for entry of an order expunging the record of the arrest: 

(1) After one year from the date of any arrest if no accusatory instrument was filed

(2) After one year from the date the prosecuting attorney formally dismisses the entire criminal case on the record; or

(3) At any time after an acquittal.

For more information about expungement options, consult with an attorney or the Clerk of Court of the South Dakota court that originally processed the criminal case.

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

For instructions on how to submit a challenge to incorrect information on your South Dakota criminal record, contact the SD DCI at (605) 773-3331.

How long are South Dakota criminal records kept on file?

In most cases, South Dakota criminal records are kept on record indefinitely. Even in the case of an arrest being expunged, a record of it still may be kept by law enforcement. However, it will not be viewable by members of the general public.