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South Dakota Public Records

The South Dakota Public Records Act mandates that all state government agencies must disclose their records to the public. Additionally, these agencies are obligated to provide clear written guidelines regarding how the public can access these records. This law aims to ensure that South Dakota residents have the ability to obtain information about their government.

However, the act does specify certain exceptions. Not all documents are required to be made public. Records like private medical information, law enforcement investigation details, and specific personnel files are not subject to public disclosure under this legislation.

How to request South Dakota Public Records?

For vital records, The South Dakota Health Department is the primary source. 

Table of Contents

Requesting public records in South Dakota involves a few key steps:

Where to find Public Records in South Dakota

To access various public records in South Dakota, you can follow these links:

Vital Records (Birth, Death, Marriage, Divorce):

You can request these records from the South Dakota Department of Health. They are available in person, by mail, over the phone, or online​

Property Records:

You can request these records from theThe county Register of Deeds offices in South Dakota store local documents, including property records like land title transfers​

Business Records:

Access to business records in South Dakota can be obtained through the South Dakota Secretary of State's office​.

Court Records:

Public access to criminal and protection cases in South Dakota can be found through the Public Access Record Search (PARS) system​​.

Driving Records:

Certified abstracts of driving records, including traffic convictions, accident dates, and license status, can be requested from the South Dakota Department of Public Safety.

Professional Licenses

Information on professional licenses in South Dakota is available through the Department of Health's professional licensing boards​.

South Dakota State Archives:

These records can be accessed through the South Dakota State Historical Society​​. Website.

Are South Dakota Public Records Available Online?

Yes, South Dakota, like many states, provides access to a selection of public records online via its official website. This digital access includes vital records, criminal records, business filings, and court records. To access these online records, users typically need to create an account and log in. Additionally, some public records in South Dakota are available through third-party websites like InfoTracer. These sites are not government-affiliated but may offer access to certain public records. However, it’s crucial to research these third-party websites beforehand to confirm their reputability and to review their privacy policies to ensure safe and secure use.

State Public Records Law

The South Dakota Public Records Act makes sure that all government records are made public and are accessible. 

Which records are public in South Dakota?

Which Records are Not Public in South Dakota

Under the South Dakota Public Records Act, several categories of records are exempt from public disclosure, each with its own rationale:

South Dakota Background Checks

South Dakota background checks are investigative processes used to gather information about an individual’s history. These checks are often conducted for employment, housing, or other purposes where a person’s background may be relevant. A background check in South Dakota can encompass various types of information depending on the depth of the investigation and the purpose for which it’s conducted.

What Can Be Included In a Background Check Report?

Criminal Records

This can show a person's criminal history, including arrests, convictions, and any ongoing criminal cases.

Employment History

Background checks often verify a person's employment history to confirm past job titles, durations of employment, and reasons for leaving previous positions.

Education Verification

This involves confirming the degrees, diplomas, or educational qualifications the individual claims to hold.

Credit History

For some positions, especially those involving financial responsibilities, a credit check might be included to assess an individual’s financial stability and responsibility.

Driving Records

These can be checked to understand an individual’s driving history, which is particularly relevant for positions requiring driving.

Sex Offender Registry Information

This check is crucial for positions that involve contact with vulnerable populations, like children or the elderly.

Personal References and Character Verification

Sometimes, background checks involve contacting personal references to gain insights into the individual's character and behavior.

South Dakota Court Records

Overview of the South Dakota court system and its Structure

The South Dakota court system is structured to handle a variety of legal matters, ranging from minor infractions to complex legal disputes. Its organization reflects a tiered system designed for efficient and fair administration of justice:

  • Supreme Court: At the apex of the South Dakota court system is the Supreme Court. This is the highest court in the state and serves as the final appellate court. It reviews decisions made by lower courts and has the authority to interpret state laws and the South Dakota Constitution. The Supreme Court also oversees the administration of the state’s judicial system.
  • Circuit Courts: The Circuit Courts are the primary trial courts in South Dakota. They have general jurisdiction over civil and criminal cases, including felonies, misdemeanors, civil disputes, family law matters, and juvenile cases. The state is divided into seven judicial circuits, each with its own Circuit Court.
  • Magistrate Courts: Operating within the Circuit Courts are Magistrate Courts, which have limited jurisdiction. These courts typically handle less serious criminal matters, such as misdemeanors, traffic violations, and preliminary hearings for more serious crimes. They also deal with small claims cases and certain civil matters.
  • Special Courts: In addition to the general court system, South Dakota has specialized courts designed to address specific types of cases. These include Drug Courts, DUI Courts, and Veterans Courts, which focus on rehabilitation and alternative sentencing for individuals with substance abuse issues or those needing specialized support, such as veterans.

The South Dakota court system is designed to ensure that justice is accessible and efficiently administered across the state. Each level of the court system has specific responsibilities and jurisdictions, ensuring that cases are handled at the appropriate level and with the necessary legal expertise.

Types of South Dakota Court Records

South Dakota Civil and Small Claims Records

South Dakota Criminal Records

South Dakota Family Records

South Dakota Probate Records

South Dakota Traffic Records

Restrictions, Limitations, and Confidentiality

In South Dakota, court records are subject to certain restrictions, limitations, and confidentiality rules to balance public access with privacy and security concerns. While many court documents are available to the public, records involving juvenile cases, certain family law matters, and mental health proceedings are often kept confidential. Additionally, specific details within public records, such as victims’ names in sensitive criminal cases or personal identification information, may be redacted to protect privacy. The courts also impose limitations on access to records that could jeopardize ongoing investigations or legal proceedings. These measures ensure that while the principle of open justice is upheld, sensitive information is safeguarded, and the privacy rights of individuals involved in court proceedings are respected.

What do these records contain

Courts in South Dakota

South Dakota Public Vital Records

In South Dakota, vital records are a key component of public records, encapsulating crucial information about the life events of the state’s residents. These records include:

  • Birth Certificates: They document the birth of individuals in the state, providing essential details like date of birth, place of birth, and parentage.
  • Certificates of Birth Resulting in Stillbirth: These are specialized records documenting instances of stillbirths, providing important information for medical and personal records.
  • Marriage Certificates: These records document the legal union of couples in South Dakota, containing details such as the date of marriage and the names of the individuals involved.
  • Divorce Records: Divorce records detail the dissolution of marriages, including information on the divorce proceedings, dates, and parties involved.
  • Death Certificates: These records are crucial for documenting the death of individuals, providing information like date, place, and cause of death.

The South Dakota Vital Records Office in the Department of Health maintains these vital records. For obtaining certified or informational copies of these records, specific eligibility requirements must be met. It’s important to note that by state law, vital records filed in South Dakota are not open for public inspection. Individuals can order birth, death, marriage, or divorce records in person, by mail, over the phone, or online from the South Dakota Department of Health’s Vital Records Office.

South Dakota Public Criminal Records

Definition and Types of Criminal Records in South Dakota

Criminal records in South Dakota are official documents that detail an individual’s criminal history within the state. These records are stored in South Dakota’s Computerized Criminal History (CCH) system. These records typically contain a range of information, including:

  • Personal Information: Details such as the individual’s name, date of birth, physical descriptors (height, weight, hair and eye color), and sometimes photographs or fingerprints.
  • Arrest Records: Data on arrests, including the date, the law enforcement agency involved, the charges, and the location of the arrest.
  • Charges and Convictions: Specific information on charges brought against the individual, the outcomes of court proceedings, and any resulting convictions.
  • Sentencing Information: Details of the sentence given if the individual was convicted, which may include jail or prison time, probation, or fines.
  • Incarceration Records: If applicable, these include information about the individual’s incarceration, such as the facility where they were held, duration of incarceration, and release date.

Police Records and Reports

South Dakota public records regarding police records and reports can typically be found through the South Dakota Department of Public Safety's website . These records often include incident reports, arrest records, and other law enforcement documents, which may be accessible through formal requests or by contacting the local police department.

Booking Records and Reports

Booking records and reports in South Dakota can be accessed through the South Dakota Department of Corrections' website. These records contain information about individuals who have been booked into correctional facilities in the state, including their booking date, charges, and related details.

DUI Records

DUI records in South Dakota can often be obtained from the South Dakota Department of Public Safety's Office of Highway Safety. These records may include information about individuals who have been arrested or convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs in the state.

Felony and Misdemeanor Records

Felony and misdemeanor records in South Dakota are typically maintained by the South Dakota Unified Judicial System. These records contain information about criminal cases, including charges, court proceedings, and outcomes, and can often be accessed online or through local courthouses.

Parole Records

Parole records in South Dakota can be found through the South Dakota Department of Corrections. These records may include information about individuals who have been granted parole and their parole status.

Probation Records

Probation records in South Dakota are also managed by the South Dakota Department of Corrections . These records typically contain information about individuals who have been placed on probation, their terms of probation, and probation status.

Warrant Search

Warrant searches in South Dakota can be conducted through various law enforcement agencies and court websites, including the South Dakota Unified Judicial System. These searches can help individuals find information about active warrants issued in the state.

Inmate And Jail Records

Inmate and jail records in South Dakota can often be obtained through the South Dakota Department of Corrections. These records contain information about individuals who are incarcerated in state correctional facilities or local jails, including their inmate status, release dates, and related details.

What you can find

Inmate and jail records in South Dakota typically contain a range of information about individuals who are incarcerated in state correctional facilities or local jails. Here are some common details you can find in these records:

  • Inmate Identification: This includes the inmate’s full name, inmate number, and any aliases they may have used.
  • Booking Information: Details about the inmate’s initial booking into the facility, such as the booking date, time, and location.
  • Arrest Information: Information about the reason for the inmate’s arrest, including the charges filed against them.
  • Mugshots: Photographs taken during the booking process, which help in identifying the inmate.
  • Personal Information: Basic demographic information about the inmate, such as date of birth, gender, and physical characteristics like height and weight.
  • Legal Status: Information about the inmate’s legal status, including whether they are awaiting trial, have been convicted, or are serving a sentence.
  • Sentence Information: If the inmate has been convicted and sentenced, their sentence details will be included, such as the length of the sentence, parole eligibility, and release date.
  • Disciplinary Records: Records of any disciplinary actions taken against the inmate while in custody, including infractions and sanctions.
  • Visitation Information: Information about approved visitors, visitation rules, and schedules.
  • Release Information: Details about the inmate’s release, including the date and time of release and any conditions of release.
  • Court Dates: Information about upcoming court appearances and legal proceedings related to the inmate’s case.
  • Medical and Mental Health Records: Basic medical and mental health information may be included, such as any prescribed medications or medical conditions.

How to Perform an Inmate Search in South Dakota

Performing an inmate search in South Dakota can be done through a few key steps:

  • South Dakota Department of Corrections (SDDOC) Website: The primary resource for conducting an inmate search in South Dakota is the SDDOC’s official website. They typically provide an inmate locator or search tool.
  • Inmate Locator Tool: On the SDDOC website, you’ll find an inmate locator or search tool. Here, you can enter details like the inmate’s name, ID number, or other identifying information to find their current location and status.
  • Additional Information: In some cases, additional information like the inmate’s date of birth might be required to refine the search results.
  • Contact SDDOC Directly: If you can’t find the information you need online, you can contact the SDDOC directly via phone or email. They can provide guidance or additional information on how to locate an inmate.
  • County Jails: For inmates in county jails rather than state prisons, you should visit the website of the specific county jail or contact them directly.
  • Privacy and Legal Considerations: Remember that there may be privacy and legal considerations when accessing certain types of information about inmates.
  • Third-party Websites: There are also third-party websites that offer inmate search services. However, ensure they are reliable and up-to-date, as they may not have the most current information.

Can I look up mugshots in South Dakota?

In South Dakota, the availability of mugshots to the public can depend on various factors, including state laws, the policies of the specific law enforcement agency, and the nature of the crime. Here’s a general guideline on how to look up mugshots:

  • Public Records Requests: Mugshots are typically considered a part of public records. You can request these records from the law enforcement agency that made the arrest. This could be a local police department, sheriff’s office, or the South Dakota Department of Corrections for state-level offenses.
  • Online Databases: Some law enforcement agencies in South Dakota may have online databases where mugshots are available. These can usually be accessed through the agency’s official website.
  • Freedom of Information Act (FOIA): You can make a request under the FOIA or a similar state-level law. However, there might be fees associated with processing these requests.
  • Privacy and Legal Restrictions: Be aware that there may be legal restrictions on the distribution of mugshots, especially if the case is ongoing, involves a minor, or pertains to sensitive charges. South Dakota might have specific laws governing the accessibility of such records.
  • Third-party Websites: There are also commercial websites that aggregate mugshots from various sources. However, the accuracy and legality of these sites can vary, and they might not always have the most current information.
  • Ethical Considerations: It’s important to consider the ethical implications of searching for and using mugshots, as they can impact the privacy and reputation of individuals, especially those who have not been convicted.

South Dakota Arrest Records

South Dakota arrest records are official documents that provide details about an individual’s arrests within the state. These records typically contain specific information related to the arrest and the individual involved.

What Do These Records Contain:

Here’s what they usually include:

  • Personal Information: This includes the name of the individual, date of birth, physical description (height, weight, eye and hair color), and sometimes photographs or mugshots.
  • Arrest Details: Information about the arrest itself, such as the date and time of the arrest, the location where the arrest occurred, and the law enforcement agency responsible for the arrest.
  • Charges: Specific details about the charges brought against the individual. This can include the nature of the offense, whether it’s a misdemeanor or felony, and any relevant statutes or legal codes.
  • Case Number: A unique identifier for the legal case associated with the arrest.
  • Bail/Bond Information: If applicable, details about bail or bond posted for the individual’s release.
  • Court Information: Details about the court handling the case, including the date and time of any scheduled hearings or trials.
  • Status of the Case: Current status of the case, whether it’s pending, convicted, dismissed, etc.

It’s important to note that arrest records do not indicate guilt or conviction; they merely record the fact that an individual was arrested on suspicion of a crime. Conviction records are separate and detail the outcome of the court proceedings.

In South Dakota, access to these records can vary based on state laws and individual law enforcement agency policies. Some records might be publicly accessible, while others could be restricted. To access these records, one may need to contact the relevant law enforcement agency or court, or use online search tools provided by the state or third-party services.

South Dakota Property and Asset Records Online

Finding property and asset records in South Dakota, involves a few distinct steps:

For Property and Asset Records:

  • County Assessor’s Office: Property records are typically maintained at the county level. You can visit the website of the county assessor’s office where the property is located. South Dakota has 66 counties, and each has its own process for accessing these records.
  • Online Databases: Many county assessor offices in South Dakota provide online databases where you can search for property records by entering the address, owner’s name, or parcel number.
  • Physical Visit or Request: If online resources are not available or insufficient, you may need to visit the county assessor’s office in person or make a formal request for records.
  • Information Included: Property records generally include the owner’s name, property address, parcel number, property value, and a description of the property. Some records may also include transaction history and tax information.

For Unclaimed Properties:

  • South Dakota State Treasurer’s Office: Unclaimed properties in South Dakota are handled by the state treasurer’s office. They maintain a database of unclaimed assets like bank accounts, safe deposit box contents, stocks, mutual funds, etc.
  • Online Search Tools: The South Dakota State Treasurer’s website typically provides a search tool where you can search for unclaimed properties by entering your name or the name of your business.
  • Claim Process: If you find a property that belongs to you, you’ll need to verify your identity and submit a claim. The website will guide you through this process, which may involve providing documentation to prove your claim.
  • No Charges: Remember that claiming unclaimed property is a free service. Be cautious of any service that charges a fee to find or claim your property.
  • Regular Checks: It’s a good idea to periodically check the unclaimed property database, as new properties are continually being added.

Driving Records

Obtaining driving records in South Dakota involves a few specific steps. These records, also known as motor vehicle records (MVRs), provide a history of a person’s driving incidents, violations, and license status. Here’s how to access them:

  • South Dakota Department of Public Safety (DPS): The DPS is responsible for maintaining driving records in South Dakota. You can request a copy of your driving record through their Driver Licensing Program.
  • Online Request: South Dakota DPS may offer an online portal where individuals can request and view their driving records. You would typically need to create an account and provide personal information such as your driver’s license number, name, and date of birth.
  • Mail or In-Person Request: If online access is not available or if you prefer not to use it, you can request your driving record by mailing a completed form to the DPS or by visiting a DPS office in person. The necessary form and instructions are usually available on the DPS website.
  • Required Information: Be prepared to provide personal identification information, such as your full name, date of birth, and driver’s license number. You may also need to provide a reason for the request.
  • Fees: There is typically a fee for obtaining a copy of your driving record. The amount and payment methods available (such as check, money order, or credit card) should be listed on the DPS website.
  • Third-Party Services: There are also third-party services that can retrieve your driving record for you. However, these services usually charge an additional fee and may not always provide the most up-to-date or comprehensive information.
  • Privacy and Consent: Driving records are considered private, so if you’re requesting a record for someone other than yourself, you’ll need their consent, unless you are an employer or have a legally permissible reason to access the record without consent.

Civil Driving Infractions

Civil driving infractions in South Dakota are non-criminal offenses related to violations of traffic laws. These infractions are typically less serious than criminal traffic offenses and are usually punishable by fines and points on your driving record rather than jail time. Common civil driving infractions in South Dakota include:

  • Speeding: Driving above the posted speed limit or too fast for conditions.
  • Failure to Stop or Yield: Not stopping at a stop sign, failing to yield right-of-way at intersections, or not yielding to emergency vehicles.
  • Seat Belt Violations: Not wearing a seat belt while driving or failing to ensure passengers are properly restrained.
  • Equipment Violations: Having faulty or non-compliant vehicle equipment, such as broken lights, improper window tinting, or loud exhaust systems.
  • Parking Violations: Illegally parking in a handicapped zone, fire lane, or other restricted areas.
  • Expired Registration or Driver’s License: Driving with an expired vehicle registration or driver’s license.
  • Traffic Signal Violations: Running red lights or failing to comply with other traffic signals.
  • Illegal Turns or Lane Changes: Making illegal turns, improper lane changes, or not signaling when changing lanes.
  • Texting or Cell Phone Use While Driving: Using a cell phone for texting or other activities while driving if prohibited by local laws.

South Dakota White Pages - Find People, Addresses, and Other Non-Official Information

Address Search ​

To conduct an address search in South Dakota, you can utilize several online resources and databases. The South Dakota Secretary of State’s website is a good starting point, offering access to public records that can include address information. For more detailed property-related information, the county assessor’s office website in the relevant South Dakota county provides property records, owner details, and valuation information. Additionally, third-party websites offer address search services, but it’s important to verify the accuracy and timeliness of the data they provide.

People Search​

To perform a people search in South Dakota, you can utilize a combination of online tools and public records. The South Dakota White Pages and similar online directories offer a straightforward way to search for individuals by name. For more detailed information, you can access public records through the South Dakota state or county government websites, where you can find voter registration, property ownership, and court records. Additionally, social media platforms and professional networking sites can be valuable resources for locating and learning more about individuals in South Dakota.

Can I Search By a Phone Number and Identify The Owner?

Yes, you can search by a phone number to identify the owner in South Dakota, as well as in other locations. This process is commonly known as a reverse phone lookup. Here’s how you can do it:

  • Online Reverse Phone Lookup Services: There are numerous websites and online services that offer reverse phone lookup. By entering the phone number, these services can provide you with information about the owner, such as their name and address. However, the accuracy and depth of information can vary.
  • Caller ID and Smartphone Apps: Some smartphones and caller ID services can automatically identify the owner of a phone number when they call. Additionally, there are apps available for smartphones that can perform reverse phone lookups.
  • Search Engines: Sometimes, simply entering the phone number into a search engine like Google can yield results, especially if the number is associated with a business or has been listed publicly online.
  • Caution with Personal Information: Be aware that if you’re trying to identify the owner of a personal phone number, there may be privacy concerns. The availability of information might be limited, especially for unlisted or private numbers.

License Plate Lookup in South Dakota

Conducting a license plate lookup in South Dakota, as in most states, is subject to certain legal and privacy restrictions. Here’s how you can go about it:

  • Law Enforcement Request: If you have a legitimate reason (such as a hit-and-run incident), you can report the license plate number to law enforcement. They can use this information in their investigations and can access the vehicle owner’s details.
  • South Dakota Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV): The DMV can conduct license plate lookups, but access to this information is typically restricted to law enforcement and authorized personnel. Individuals may not be able to access another person’s vehicle information without a permissible purpose as defined by the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act (DPPA).
  • In Case of Accidents or Legal Matters: If you need information for legal matters, such as after a car accident, your attorney can request this information through legal channels.
  • For Vehicles You Own: If you’re looking up details of a vehicle you own, you can do so through the South Dakota DMV. This can be helpful if you need information about your vehicle registration or to confirm the status of your license plate.
  • Third-party Websites: There are online services that claim to offer license plate lookups. However, be cautious as these may not always be reliable or legal. Many of these sites cannot access state DMV records and may provide outdated or incorrect information.
  • Privacy Concerns: Remember that accessing someone’s personal information through their license plate without a legitimate reason can be a violation of privacy laws.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who and why can request public records?

Any member of the public can request public records in South Dakota, and they can do so for any reason as these records are meant to ensure government transparency and accountability.

Are there fees associated with requesting public records?

Yes, there may be fees associated with requesting public records in South Dakota, particularly for copying, processing, or extensive searches, although viewing records might be free.

Are public records Free to access?

While viewing public records is often free, there may be fees for copying or processing requests, especially for large or complex records.

What is the response time for public records requests?

The response time for public records requests in South Dakota varies but is typically expected to be prompt, adhering to state guidelines; some requests may be fulfilled within days, while others might take longer.

Can my request be rejected?

Yes, your request for public records in South Dakota can be rejected if it involves confidential or exempted information, such as records related to personal privacy, security concerns, or ongoing legal investigations.

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