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North Dakota's public records law states that anyone regardless of where they live is entitled to copies of government records from public entities.
"Public entity" means all:
The above-mentioned public entities are the custodians of public records. They also create them, store them, and share them among other government agencies.
"Record" means recorded information of any kind, regardless of the physical form or characteristic by which the information is stored, recorded, or reproduced, which is in the possession or custody of a public entity or its agent and which has been received or prepared for use in connection with public business or contains information relating to public business. "Record" does not include unrecorded thought processes or mental impressions, but does include preliminary drafts and working papers. "Record" also does not include records in the possession of a court of this state."
The State Historical Society of North Dakota is the government agency in charge of preserving all historical public records. They have a website linked to ND.gov. Not only do they keep government records, school records, and historical information, they have resources for research including books, periodicals, maps, newspapers, audio recordings, electronic records and resources, moving images, and photographs.
Typically, in North Dakota to request public records, you need to contact the agency you need them from. You do not need to provide a reason, and the government agency must supply them within a "reasonable time." Otherwise, you can contact the Attorney General's Office to file a complaint.
Record requests do not need to be made in writing. You can call, email, or visit in person to ask for specific records. Each agency has the legal right to charge a fee per search or copy if they choose.
The North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) is the central repository for all criminal records in the state. They compile records of arrests and prosecutions of individual offenders for use by law enforcement, the courts, and the public. You can request a copy through their web portal. They offer both name-based and fingerprint searches. The fingerprint method is more accurate because some criminals use various aliases and other names. They charge $15 per record, and it takes between 10-15 days to receive them.
Some common types of criminal records in North Dakota include (but are not limited to):
Court records in North Dakota are created, stored, and shared with the public through the State of North Dakota Courts system. They have a web portal where you can search through both District and County court cases. Some of the types of things you will find are Criminal/Traffic cases, Civil, Family & Probate case records, judgments, and a full-court calendar. They also offer e-filing and other electronic services on their main website.
Some types of court records in North Dakota include:
Along with the web portal, you can also seek records by visiting the courthouse in person.
North Dakota arrest records are stored with the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI), and they supply the public, employers, and licensing agencies copies of full criminal background checks upon request. You do have to pay a $15 fee when requesting, though. The Attorney General's Office has specific information on how to order a background check and the laws that apply when doing so.
Some different types of arrests records in North Dakota are:
The North Dakota Department of Health, Division of Vital Records is the government agency that preserves, stores, and issued all vital records for the state. They have copies of all birth, death, fetal death, marriage, and divorce certificates. You can request copies for a fee via the mail, online, and by visiting their office in person. This agency also handles corrections to vital records and paternity. The division also calculates health statistics for the entire state.
Along with criminal, court, arrest, and vital records, other types of public records you can find in the state of North Dakota include, but are not limited to:
According to North Dakota, public records law some items are exempt and cannot be supplied to the general public. Some of those things include: