When a criminal justice record is in 'suspense,' it means a court disposition cannot be linked to a criminal history arrest record. The BCA continues to work to meet the Minnesota legislature's goal of keeping suspense to less than 10%.
The Minnesota Justice Information Services (MNJIS) provides information and tools to aid in the prevention and resolution of suspense. The BCA encourages Minnesota criminal justice agencies to take advantage of the information offered on these web pages.
Working together to identify gaps and implement change is easier than it might appear. It will help us all move toward the goal of eliminating suspense, eliminating extra work for your staff and better serving our communities.
What is the Impact of Suspense?
Suspended court dispositions have serious impact across the criminal justice system:
- A subject’s access to the judicial process could be delayed or constrained. They could also be improperly denied employment or housing, leading to potential liability.
- An inaccurate criminal history could also lead to convicted offenders being cleared for firearms purchases or employment in “sensitive” positions.
- Public safety and security is eroded as flight risk increases.
- A prosecutor’s efficiency can also be decreased because of the need to manage a noncustodial subject and ensure their processing. If the subject does not cooperate, contempt charges could lead to additional expenditure of time and resources.
- The effectiveness of the courts can be reduced. Prosecutors and court personnel may be impeded because of an inability to:
- confirm the subject’s identity
- confirm the controlling agency (CAG)
- sufficiently review the subject’s criminal history
- successfully prosecute and adjudicate based on current and historical fact
- The courts’ efficiency can also be decreased because of rescheduled court appearances and the need to spend time and resources correcting suspended court dispositions.
Why Does Suspense Occur?
Lack of Fingerprints
A suspended court disposition can occur when a fingerprint card is not submitted to, or not accepted by, the BCA. This can occur for a number of reasons, such as:
- A subject being cited and released without booking (when fingerprinting would normally occur)
- A subject appears in court and is not fingerprinted
- Poor quality fingerprints were taken and rejected by either Livescan or the BCA without replacements being submitted
- Arrest data being formatted incorrectly or omitted, causing a rejection by Livescan or the BCA
- Other poorly-defined or -followed business practices
There are four key identifiers for any document contained in a criminal history record:
- The subject’s full name (first, middle, and last)
- The subject’s date of birth
- The controlling agency’s (CAG)
- Originating Agency Identifier (ORI)
Problems with these key identifiers can cause a court disposition to become suspended. Such problems can include:
- Incomplete identifiers provided
- Missing identifiers in a submission
- A mismatch between the key identifiers of arrest and court segments
- Incorrect identifiers provided, including
- Generic case numbers (entries of a repeating single digit - all 9’s, for example)
- A subject providing false information at the time of arrest
BCA Suspense Reduction Services
- Criminal History System (CHS) Suspense Queue
- Livescan Message Enhancement (LME)
- Assistance with business practice analysis & assessments
- Assistance with business process change planning & implementation
- Reference materials and guides
- Sample documents and forms
- Sample policies and procedures
For additional information on these resources, contact a member of the BCA Service Desk.