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Bureau of Criminal Apprehension

A Division of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety

General Information

Frequently Asked Questions

What does it mean if I receive a no record response on a public criminal history inquiry?

The CHS system will search for an exact match of the information the user enters.  Sometimes the user will receive a “no record” response to a search.  A “no record” response could mean a number of things.  One possibility is that the subject does not have a criminal history record. Other possibilities include the following: 
  • The subject’s record is not public data.
  • The subject’s name was entered incorrectly.
  • A nickname was entered, rather than the name associated with the record.
  • Criminal data about the subject was not sent to the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. 
  • The subject’s record is under a former name, such as a maiden name.
The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension may not have access to all criminal history information maintained by local police departments, courts, and federal agencies such as the FBI. It is also important to note that criminal data is subject to change, therefore, the outcome of CHS searches may vary over time. 

How complete is a criminal history record?

A criminal history record is only as complete and accurate as the information that is provided to the BCA by law enforcement, courts, and corrections.  If fingerprints are not received for an offense the information related to that offense will not be part of a criminal history record even if it resulted in a conviction. In addition, you may receive a conviction record but no confinement information if a fingerprint card was not received from the confinement agency. 


Are fingerprints required for a criminal history record search?

Fingerprints are not required to conduct the CHS record search at the BCA. In some instances the BCA will request fingerprints of the subject of the record to ensure the correct record is disseminated. Since all CHS data is based on fingerprint identification, fingerprinting is the only method we have to guarantee the record belongs to a specific individual. 

Can I obtain a record for a state other than Minnesota?

The BCA does not maintain records of arrests and convictions occurring in other states. You may contact other state bureaus regarding the procedures for accessing their records. 

How do I request a federal criminal history record?

Federal records are available for the individual of the record or when mandated or allowed by state statute. For information regarding your own federal criminal history record, contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) at 304-625-5590 or


What if I believe the information in a record is inaccurate or incomplete?

Procedure to follow if an individual subject of the data believes the information is inaccurate or incomplete:    
  1. Persons requesting to review their record must complete and sign a “Request for Review of Individual’s Criminal History Record Information” form.
  2. A search of the file will be made by name and date of birth.
  3. If no record is found, no review can take place.
  4. If a record is located by name and date of birth, fingerprints are taken to compare with the prints on file for that record.
  5. If prints match, the record is presented for review.
  6. If prints do not match, no review can take place.  Refer to the Questioned Identity Information Sheet.
  7. A copy will be supplied, if requested, for the established fee.
  8. If the individual does not agree with the information maintained on the BCA file, he or she has the right to challenge that information by indicating in writing that part of the record which he or she is challenging as being inaccurate or incomplete (13.04, subd. 4).
  9. Upon receiving notification of challenge, the BCA shall immediately flag the record in dispute.  Data in dispute shall be disclosed only if the individual’s statement of disagreement is included with the disclosed data (13.04, subd. 4)
  10. Within 30 days, BCA personnel shall examine the record and trace the data back to the source documents and/or submitting agencies, to determine the accuracy and completeness.
  11. If BCA personnel determine the record is in error, it shall immediately be corrected.
  12. Should  BCA determine that information on the record is correct, they will notify the subject of the record that no change to the record will be made. BCA will also notify the subject of their right to appeal (13.04, sub. 4 and Chapter 14, Contested Cases Procedures) along with the contested cases procedures. 

Note: If data is correct, but still disputed, the subject may go to the source of the document to dispute the data. 


What should I do if I find myself the subject of questioned identity?

Click here to be directed to the Questioned Identity Information Sheet.