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South Dakota Public Records

You need a quick background check or a copy of a criminal record from South Dakota, but want to find the best place to search. When you’re stuck and don’t know where to turn for South Dakota Public Records, look no further. 

South Dakota’s public records, including those held by government agencies, can be obtained by citizens of the state and other persons seeking a record. You can search and receive documents from agencies that store vital, court, criminal and judicial records.

What does the South Dakota public records law say?

The South Dakota Public Records Law was updated in 2009 to follow many of the suggestions in the federal Freedom of Information Act. 

You do not have to be a resident to request records from South Dakota. 

The South Dakota Open Records Law does not include the judicial system, but you can obtain executive and legislative branch documents. 

You should only be charged the actual fee for copying the records. Some fees may be waived if the record release is in the public’s best interest. You can file an appeal within 30 days to the Office of the Hearing examiner if you are not granted your records request. 

Information may be redacted on the document and which falls under the invasion of privacy, a threat to public safety or security. This is a partial denial for records. 

To learn more, visit SouthDakota.gov.

How can a person access public records in South Dakota?

Some records are online and some records must be requested in writing. For public records access in South Dakota, a person must submit a public records request. The request is sent via mail, email, mail, or by phone to the record-holding department. 

Every department is different, so expect some variation to the rules if you’re accessing records from multiple places. 

In general, a public records request should include: 

  • Your name and contact information, including an email, phone number, and mailing address
  • The name of the document you want access to with as much detail as possible
  • A specific time period that you’d like to receive the materials by
  • How to deliver the documents, whether by email or mail

Due to COVID-19, some public offices may have limited hours of operation. As a result, online requests are best, but if you want to go in person you should call ahead.

South Dakota criminal records

Employers who want to run a background check on a potential employee can do so with the use of criminal records searches. To assist businesses find those criminal records, information and resources are listed below.

What’s on a criminal record?

South Dakota provides the following information on a criminal record:

  • Name
  • Date of birth
  • Physical description
  • Case number
  • Charges
  • Sentencing information
  • Release date
  • Status
  • Conviction statute

Where can a person find South Dakota criminal records?

Any person who has been arrested for misdemeanors or felonies in South Dakota will be in their State’s Computerized Criminal History system. You can use this system for background searches for employment. 

To run a background check, the system is 100% fingerprint-based. Records on arrests, bail/bonds, conviction, probation, and facility location are available for a fee. There is a charge of $26.75 and requires a signed waiver

To begin, call 605-773-3331 for a free fingerprint kit. The fingerprint card must be completed and include the applicant’s name, date of birth, gender, and social security number. The individual inquiring must take the fingerprint card to the local law enforcement agency for printing. The fee is $26.75 and needs to be in the form of a check or money order. 

South Dakota does not store information on persons on probation or any persons in the county jails.

South Dakota inmate records

South Dakota has six main prisons with the state penitentiary located in Sioux Falls. These prisons house over 3,800 inmates. 

What’s on an inmate record?

South Dakota records contain personal information about a person’s incarceration situation. The Department of Corrections inmate locator provides the following information:

  • Name and aliases
  • DOC number
  • Age
  • Race
  • Gender
  • Physical description
  • Current facility
  • Status
  • Parole office

Where can a person find South Dakota inmate records?

To gain access to prisoner information, you can access records online. The South Dakota Department of Corrections maintains the records for anyone to access via an inmate locator. 

To find an inmate, enter the DOC #, last name, and first name of that person. 

South Dakota court records

Finding court records is one of the trickier records to access because most of the time you have to get them from a clerk of courts at specific county courthouses. To conduct a public records search, it helps to have an understanding of the South Dakota court system. 

Courts in South Dakota include the Supreme Court, Circuit Courts, Small Claims Court, and Problem Solving Courts like Drug, DUI, Mental Health, and Veterans Treatment Courts. When you know which court may hold the files you need, it is easier to track them down.

The Supreme Court in South Dakota is comprised of a chief justice and four associate justices who hear appeals on decisions set forth by the lower courts. The court can advise the state’s governor. 

The South Dakota Circuit Courts are the trial courts for both criminal and civil cases. The trials for any felony in South Dakota would happen in a circuit court. Civil cases exceeding $10,000 would be tried here. 

The Problem Solving Courts were at first created to help with an increase in drug cases. Since it was successful, the other courts like the Mental Health Court were added to streamline the court system. 

The Small Claims Court is organized so that people can sue for losses of money or property. The dollar limits for small claims is $12,000 or less. 

You can request criminal cases unless they have been sealed. They are available from 1989 to the present. Civil cases, from 2003 to the present, can be requested unless sealed. Civil money judgments are found here from April 19, 2004, until the present. 

What’s on a court record?

Depending on the length of time of the case, court records can be quite lengthy. Court records that you can obtain are:

  • Court minutes
  • Dockets
  • Case files
  • Orders of the court
  • Judgment documentation
  • Witness documentation
  • Jury records and files

Where can a person find South Dakota court records?

Search this database for criminal and protection orders. Enter the system as a guest to use your credit card. The fee is $20.00 even if you have no results. 

Civil money judgments can be found at the South Dakota Unified Judicial System

by entering a name and password. Searches covered are  judgments from April 19, 2004, to the present. Searches are by name but also include date ranges. You may search by county. The fee is $4.00 per name, plus a $1.00 handling fee to access the docket. You can use a credit or debit card. You will be charged even if there is no result. 

Civil and criminal records can be obtained through email using South Dakota Court Records Email and completing the application. It will cost $20.00 per name. 

South Dakota vital records

You can order birth, death, marriage, and divorce records from South Dakota. These can be requested in person, through the mail, online, or over the phone. Records can be released to the person requesting the records, the spouse, children, parents, guardian, or even next of kin. South Dakota stores vital records after 1905. 

What information is needed to request a vital record?

You need to show identification photo ID (state, federal, or tribal). If you do not have a photo ID you can show two other proofs of identity such as social security card, car registration, utility bill with current address, or bank statement with current address. 

Where can a person find South Dakota vital records?

The South Dakota Department of Health refers all inquiries for birth records, death records, marriage records, and divorce records to VitalCheck, an online portal used by many states to facilitate public access to vital records. 

Through this system a person can obtain a death certificate, for example, for a fee. The fee is $15.00 for the certificate and $6.50 for Vitalchek. You can request UPS overnight for an extra fee. You will need to pay with a credit card. 

You can mail in a request by completing the application at South Dakota Vital Records Check Application. You need it notarized or a clean and clear copy of your photo ID must be added. Send a check or money order for $15.00, Mail it to the State Office in Pierre, South Dakota.

Frequently asked questions about South Dakota records

The basic questions asked about South Dakota records are compiled here for your use. 

Can a request be submitted by non-residents of the state?

Yes. Anyone in the United State can submit a request, you do not need to be a citizen of the state to request records. 

Is there a records custodian in South Dakota?

There is no records custodian but the Office of Hearing Examiners manages administrative appeals of the public records decisions. 

Are property records public? 

Yes. To access real estate records, visit the register of deeds.  

What exemptions exist?

The state of South Dakota does exempt the judicial courts from public records release. On top of that, there are 35 other records that are exempt. It will be prudent for you to check to see if the records you are hunting are exempt. A partial exemption list includes financial accounts, trade secrets, law enforcement methods, inmate disciplinary matters, personal correspondence and notes from public officials, personal information that invades privacy, and information that could endanger public safety. 

How long does that state have to respond?

The agencies must grant, deny, or extend your request within 10 days. 

Is there an appeals process in place?

South Dakota does have an appeals process. You must submit your appeal within 30 days after the records release decision. You can appeal to the Office of Hearing Examiner. If this request fails, you can file with the circuit court within the district which holds the records. 

What fees are associated with requesting public records?

Fess that are charged to an individual requesting records must be kept at that actual cost. A records search can be charged at $7.50 an hour and copying fees are $0.10 a page. Any fee over $10.00 needs to be prepaid. If fees will exceed $50.00 an estimate must be sent to the requestor. 

  • Updated November 2, 2020
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