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Minnesota

A Midwestern state, Minnesota was created from the eastern section of the Minnesota Territory and is bordered by Lake Superior and Canada to the north.  Minnesota is the 12th largest state in the U.S., and nearly 60 percent of its 5.4 million residents live in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, also known as the Twin Cities.  With a diverse landscape and an even more diverse population, Minnesota has a lot to offer its residents and has long made provisions for the sharing of its records with the public.

Minnesota Public Records Laws

The Minnesota Government Data Practices Act (MGDPA) was originally passed in 1974 and amendments were made in 1993.  The Act is found in Chapter 13 of the Minnesota Statutes, and the law imposes some of the highest sanctions of any other state against those who knowingly violate its provisions, with damages allowed up to $15,000 per incident.

Under the Act, “any person” may request public records in Minnesota and this includes individuals, corporations, and their legal representatives.  The reason for the application does not need to be stated, except in matters of potential invasion of privacy, and the use of the records once obtained is unrestricted.

Records that are covered by the Act include those from all state agencies, including the executive branch.  The legislative and judicial branches are not included although some legislative records are available, and the Rules of Public Access apply to the disclosure of court records.  Records that cannot be obtained, or are exempt, include:

  • Educational records
  • Medical records
  • Investigatory records
  • Security-related data
  • Sealed ballots
  • Library records
  • Welfare data
  • Foster care information
  • Domestic abuse data

Minnesota Criminal Records, Arrest Records and Background Checks

Background checks in Minnesota are administered by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA).  The department has an open-access website where any member of the public can do a public records search on anyone else for free, and the results will return a 15-year criminal history for the state of Minnesota.  However, if the report is to be used for employment, housing, or credit purposes, the applicant must be informed in writing of this.  A more complete check, including a search of FBI records, can be done when a signed consent is received.


Minnesota Jail and Inmate Records

To find information on the correctional facilities in the state of Minnesota, services for victims, and to search for an offender, you can visit the state Department of Corrections website.  To locate an offender in the system, you’ll want to search on the Offender Locator page with either a MnDOC Offender ID or a Name and Date of Birth.  You’ll be given the offender’s current location, sentence date, offense information, and estimated earliest release date.

Minnesota Court Records

To locate any information on the courts or court cases in the state of Minnesota, you can search the administrator of the courts website.  The Minnesota Public Access (MPA) website allows the public to search for such things as trial, civil, family, and criminal case records, wills deposited with the court, and appellate court cases.  Full case files may need to be requested from the courthouse where the case was heard.

Minnesota Vital Records

Vital records in Minnesota in the form of birth and death certificates are administered by the Minnesota Department of Health, Office of Vital Records.  Birth certificates are available from 1900 to present and death certificates from 1908 to present.   You must show “tangible interest” to receive any of these documents in Minnesota.  This means proving that you are either listed on the certificate or are a relative, legal guardian, legal representative, or business with an interest.  To request either of these in Minnesota, you can do the following:

  • In Person: You can only apply for a birth or death certificate in person at a local county office if they offer this service.   The main Office of Vital Records does not provide walk-in service.
  • By Mail:   You can mail a complete application with payment and the required documentation to: Minnesota Department of Health, Central Cashiering – Vital Records, P.O. Box 64499, St. Paul, MN 55164
  • Email:  Fax your completed application with the required documentation to 951-201-5740.

Marriage certificates and divorce decrees are only available from the county in which the event took place.  Procedures to request these and dates available will vary depending on the location.

If you’re looking to perform employment background checks in Minnesota, or to screen potential hires, there are certain restrictions you may need to file. Read on for more info.

There are certain states, such as California, New York and Wisconsin, which are considered to be pro-jobseeker states when it comes to background check laws. Minnesota is also a state that falls into this job-seeker friendly category. These states don’t have laws that completely prohibit the use of background checks and the information obtained to determine whether someone is hireable or not; however, it does place certain limitations on the background check process and the extent that the information can be used to determine whether a person is hireable.

The Important Role of Background Checks

Immediate access to the pertinent background information of applicants has totally revolutionized the human resources industry. The capacity to almost immediately gain access to a broad range of personal and even private data, provides these companies with a wealth of data through which they can develop a rather lucid portrait of potential employees. However, the challenge is determining how much access is too much, as well as determining just what a company can use or not use in their decision making process.

This is why states go to great lengths to protect job seekers from companies that will abuse the background check process without handcuffing the businesses completely. There are some states with very loose laws that provide a great deal of latitude for companies to use background checks in their hiring process, while other states place more emphasis on protecting the rights and privacy of the job seeker. Minnesota falls under the latter category.

The Diverse Nature of a Background Check

Obviously, one of the most common areas of concern when it comes to background checks is criminal history. For the purpose of protecting employees, clients and company property and assets, companies place a significant amount of gravity on criminal history. Although having a criminal history does not automatically bar a person from employment, it can create challenges, depending on the type of crime that was committed, as well as how long ago the crime was committed.

Under Minnesota law, any company that is functioning as a business screening service may only disseminate criminal history that is reflective of a person’s accurate and complete record. Ultimately, this means that any data that is provided to a company as a part of a criminal background check must have been updated no later than 30 days prior to the information being passed on to the company requesting the background check. The law also requires that this data be verified with the primary data source within the last 90 days. Companies providing business screening services or employment criminal background checks must allow any person that this is the subject of a background check to dispute the criminal history that is revealed on any report that is being distributed to a business requesting information on the subject.

Dealing with Juvenile Records

When it comes to conducting a background check on juveniles, the law only allows access to a juvenile’s prior criminal history as a prerequisite for specific types of employment in specific occupations or for specified noncriminal justice system purposes. Occupations in which public safety is an issue or jobs that involve other minors are a couple of the categories that apply here.

Ban the Box Protections

Ban the box protection laws were first enacted in Minnesota is 1974, and they were most recently amended in 2013. These laws provide specific limitation on the ability of companies to access and use a person’s criminal history as a basis for denying employment. These restrictions apply to public and private employers and licensing agencies. One law prohibits the consideration of a person’s criminal history until that person has been selected for an interview. This law is designed to ensure that criminal history cannot be used solely as a disqualifying criteria for potential employees. For a person to be selected for an interview suggests that they have, at least, met the minimum requirements for the job.

When it comes to licensing decisions and public employment, no government agency can consider any criminal record that is not followed by a conviction, expunged convictions or misdemeanor convictions in which no jail sentence can be imposed.

Additionally, when it comes to public employment, a person cannot be denied employment based on criminal history unless the offense in question is directly associated with the position that the person is applying for. To ensure that this particular statute is followed, there are specific provisions and criteria that must be met by the employer to prove direct association.

When it comes to licensing, any person that is covered by these statutes that is rejected must be provided a notice of the reasons why they were rejected. The licensing agency must also include information on the statutory complaint and grievance process and the earliest day that the applicant can reapply. Where applicable, the agency must also make the applicant aware of the fact that any evidence of rehabilitation will be considered for future applications.

Occupations and Activities Serving Children

When it comes to occupations that focus on serving children, the state of Minnesota requires a mandatory background check. For instance, any person offered employment in a position by a school that is serving children from Kindergarten through 12th grade must clear a criminal background check, including athletic and extracurricular activity coaches and teachers.

In this case, there is no limit on the look-back period, meaning that the background check can go back as far as necessary. This normally includes instate and out-of-state sources.

There are some exceptions to the mandatory statute. For instance, the hiring authority does not have to request a background check for someone who has received their license within the last 12 months. The hiring authority also has the option to use a background check that has been conducted by another school or hiring authority if the background check was conducted in the last 12 months.

This statute also allows for the termination of those who were hired pending the results of their background check. The statute also requires that the applicant provide a money order or check payable to BCA or the hiring authority for the purpose of covering the cost of the background check.

Although this statute mandates a background check, it does not prohibit the hiring authority from hiring someone with a criminal history, and the hiring authority will not be held liable for terminating or failing to hire an individual based on the results of the background check.

For those who are applying to work on a volunteer basis at institutions that serve children from kindergarten to 12th grade, background checks are optional and left to the discretion of the hiring authority.

Outside of the statutes that impact individuals who are applying for positions involving children, the background check laws in Minnesota overwhelmingly favor the job-seeker. The idea is to protect the privacy of individuals as well as protect against the proclivity of companies to refuse employment to individuals with criminal histories.

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Church Background Checks for Volunteers


Any sort of organization that has constant interaction with children is going to require some sort of background check or screening. In Churches, where there is so much focus on the youth ministry and schools, screening is required of all volunteers.

Here are the following steps you need to take to protect your ministry from those who wish to do harm to children

Establish a Background Check Process in Your Ministry

Your state may have specific requirements for your church, including fingerprinting. Check with your attorney or State Police before you begin the process.

  1. Establish who must undergo a background check
  2. Figure out what type of background check you are going to run.
  3. Determine how you will deal with matches on the background check.

What Type of Checks Should You Run on Church Volunteers?

At a minimum, you should run a national sex offender search and multistate criminal database search for your church. On a higher level, you should also run county level criminal felony and misdemeanor searches.

For church employees and those who deal with money, an employment credit report should also be ordered. Additionally, church employees should have every county of residence searched in the last 5 years.

 

 

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How Long Does an Employment Background Check Take

With more than 90 percent of employers running background checks on potential candidates, it’s important that you know what they’re looking for before you begin your job hunt. The same applies to banks where you’re seeking a loan and landlords when you’re trying to secure a new place to live. Background checks can make or break your eligibility for all of life’s necessities.

So what do you need to know about the length of your average review? Consider this your guide to understanding background checks.

Types of Background Check

The length of a background check will depend entirely on what kind of check is being run. There are several types:

Criminal Checks

These checks look for arrests, lawsuits, incarceration records and people on the sex offender registry. They typically take anywhere from 3-10 days depending on the agency doing the reporting and the amount of transgressions on record.

Citizenship Checks

More and more employers are requiring citizenship or visa checks to keep themselves from running afoul of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE). These checks are usually nothing more than a phone call or a Social Security number run through the federal E-Verify program, so they don’t take long at all.

Credit Checks

Checking an applicant’s credit can be a time-consuming process. According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), employers have to get your permission for the review before any digging is done, and even after that you’re looking at a wait of 7-10 days for official processing.

Driving Checks

If you’re applying somewhere as a driver, your employer will need to check your driving record for tickets, accidents and DUIs/DWIs. Don’t expect this to happen any sooner than 48 hours, especially if the employer is having it bundled into an all-purpose background check that can take up to a week to deliver.

Employment Checks

Did you really work at that company? Hiring managers are allowed to check references, employment dates and even performance reviews. Unfortunately, there’s just no way to know how long it will your new employer to speak with your old one.

Education Checks

If you’re applying for an academic or highly technical position, your employer may want verification of your degree. These don’t take long for the schools to fax over, but keep in mind that their offices aren’t open on weekends, and not every request is processed right away.

Tenant Checks

Tenant screening takes place by landlords and homeowners who want to ensure that they’re renting to the right people. These checks look for things like income verification and good rental histories, and they usually take less than 72 hours.

Licensing Checks

Your employer may want to verify that you have the legal certification required for your job. These checks will look at issuance dates, location details and any disciplinary actions taken against you, and they typically take 3-10 days.

Types of Background Checker

In addition to choosing what kind of review to run, employers are often allowed to pick between several different methods of obtaining a background check.

Third-Party Agencies

Third-party agencies are usually the fastest with background checks. They use the Internet to comb through public records, so they typically have results within a matter of days; some agencies even run “instant” background checks that can be done in a matter of hours.

State Agencies

When employers want an official background check, they turn to the state. These reviews are ordered from places like the State Bureau of Identification (SBI) or the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (DPSCS), and they typically take 7-10 business days to be mailed out.

Federal Agencies

Occasionally a bank or employer will require a background check from the FBI for the purpose of national security. These reviews take the longest; you won’t see results for 30 days or more.

Speeding Up Your Background Check

If you’re in a hurry for that new job, here are just a few ways to grease the wheels of the system:

– Fill out your forms properly. For example, don’t give your nickname or a shortened version of your name on official job applications. “Joe” isn’t in the state’s records; “Joseph” is.

– Offer as many identifiers as you can. Don’t be shy about giving out your birthday, address history or educational level. According to Security Magazine, this will keep you from being confused with other people of the same name.

– Be honest. This may sound obvious, but there’s no use in lying on a form when you’re going to be scrutinized in a background check anyway. Not only will you lose the job, but it can also slow things down when city officials confuse your records with another persons.

These are just a few things to keep in mind when wondering about the length of a background check. As you can see, it depends on a variety of factors, so be as patient as you can. Anxiety won’t make the results deliver themselves any faster.

MVR Driving Record

In today’s difficult environment, it is important for a company to make a firm commitment to risk management. Employee screening is one essential ingredient in an overall risk management program. By thoroughly screening a prospective hire, a company can ensure that they obtain honest, reliable employees.

A company with employee drivers should take every reasonable measure to make sure that these people are safe drivers to protect their business and reduce risks. Among these steps is the use of Motor Vehicle Records Checks to determine if an applicant has a good driving history. Employee driving records have become an important Fleet Safety Program component and can help protect a company against litigation after an accident.

The Basics

An MVR or Motor Vehicle Check shows a person’s driving history including valuable information about their driver’s license such as special endorsements, license class, current and past license statuses including cancellations, revocations and suspensions and any restrictions on their license.

Aside from that, it will also show valuable information about a person’s traffic violations including but not limited to vehicular crimes, accident reports, traffic citations, DUI convictions and driving record points. MVR checks might also show personal information such as an individual’s gender, date of birth, age, weight, height and hair and eye color.

They can also uncover unanswered or unpaid summons and insurance lapses. Usually, MVR checks only show information for a specific number of years. However, the time frame differs by the state. Additionally, employers should obtain a release from the applicant before an MVR check can be run.

The Statistics Do Not Lie

The importance of an MVR check cannot be denied. Companies should determine if their employee is a safe driver not only to protect their equipment but also their customers, clients and others that their workers may have contact with. This is because motor-vehicle crashes cost companies $60 billion annually in legal expenses, lost productivity, medical care and property damage. The average motor vehicle crash costs an employer approximately $16,500.

When an employee is involved in an on-the-job crash that results in an injury, the cost to their employer is $74,000. What is worse is that it can exceed $500,000 when a fatality is involved. That figure can soar to millions of dollars per incident if punitive damages are awarded. They are also liable for a negligent lawsuit. Such lawsuits also have the potential to destroy the reputation of a company.

The Benefits

It can be hard for a company to predict how an employee will handle their job in a real work setting. If their work requires driving, auto insurance can be involved as well that can significantly affect the operations of their business. Nobody is perfect at driving, but some people are definitely worse than others.

In many cases, driving history repeats itself. Running an MVR check helps a company predict any negative activity that has a higher probability of happening in the near future. At the very least, they can talk to the prospective employee about their driving history after knowing their record and resolving any issues and worries.

However, this does not just equate to peace of mind for business owners. Their insurance company worries about their employees as well. That worry usually translates to money. This is because insurance companies have access to MVR checks, and their premiums may be based on people’s driving history.

Companies may be penalized with higher premiums if their organization reflects poorly in this domain. Insurance is frequently a hazard to operational costs. Fortunately, knowing their employee’s MVR helps companies protect themselves.

Another Hidden Benefit

In addition to companies benefiting from having MVR checks done, prospective job applicants do as well. It prevents them from having unnecessary errors that blemish their identity. Even if their job does not necessarily involve driving, an employer may still want an idea of what is on their driving record.

Having errors on their record can hurt a person’s chances of getting a job. Even if there are no errors, every violation or ticket they have might not show up on record. Knowing what isn’t and what is on their record can help an person prepare for questioning by a prospective employer.

Releasing Time

MVR checks are usually returned within one to three business days from the order date. However, each U.S. state has its own regulations and rules as to how records are released and kept. This affects the turnaround time.

Other reasons for an MVR check to be delayed include name variations and missing or incorrect license numbers. Because motor vehicle licenses are issued by individual states, and each one of them maintains its own database driving records, MVR checks are done per state as there is no national driving record database. Companies should contact the individual Department of Motor Vehicles or comparable department in each state.

A Weakness

Each state has its own regulations and rules as to how Motor Vehicle Records checks are done. Additional forms may be necessary to perform them. What is worse is that some states do not permit a prospective employer to gain access to Motor Vehicle Reports. Because of this, some companies choose to order an MVR check from a reputable third-party company. These companies provide a much faster service. In addition, they perform these checks at a much lower price or sometimes for free.

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