October 17, 2017, 10:34 pm
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General Information About Minnesota Public Records and Laws
Individuals and businesses can obtain copies of Minnesota public records as they need or desire to. The state does not limit who can access this information, except that in some cases, it must not be for any illegal use or harassment. The Minnesota Data Practices Act, Chapter 13, provides for the right for individuals and businesses to have access to government records in the state. The types of information, who can access it and how to do so are all governed under this state law.
What Is a Public Record in Minnesota?
Public records in the state are defined as all types of data collected, received, maintained, created or disseminated by a government entity. This may include photographic material, microfilmed materials, written or non-written material as well as documents sent through electronic means. The state does not provide a full list of what is contained in this type of file, but it does require that individuals abide by any exemptions to the law.
Some common types of public records in the state include vital statistics including birth certificates, death certificates, burial records, marriage licenses and divorce decrees. It also includes information about real estate exchanges, taxation, government actions, meeting minutes as well as information regarding court cases, both civil and criminal in nature.
There are some types of information exempt from access by the general public. This information is protected for a specific reason. It includes items like the following.
·         Any information that is considered private to an individual and would be a violation of privacy laws
·         Information that is personally identifying for state employees, such as addresses and phone numbers
·         Information that would hinder the safety of or the operations of a state entity
·         Most juvenile records, including court records, when there is a risk that someone will be able to access sensitive data
·         Victim records in some cases
·         Identifying information for police officers, including undercover police officers
To access this type of record, an individual must petition the court to allow it, which is often very limited. Minnesota public records provide a resource and should be used within the letter of the law.
Obtaining Minnesota Public Records
In order to obtain these records, individuals will need to approach the appropriate facility and request the data. In general, this can be done in person at a local government office where the records remain stored. It may be possible to access some information from the state's website if you have searchable information. Third party providers also provide access. The following are some of the agencies available to provide this information.
·         For accident records, the Driver and Vehicle Services Accident Records Department processes requests.
·         For vital statistics, the Minnesota Department of Health Vital Records provides requests.
·         Criminal records are searchable through the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.
·         Court records are available through the State Court Administrator as well as through some local courts.
Individuals who wish to obtain Minnesota public records for any of these needs will need to do so through the required method as described by that agency.
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