Court Records–More Than You’d Think
Minnesota Trial Court Public Access websites, mote commonly known as “MNCIS,” (Minnesota Court Information System), are a powerful and cost-effective tool for discovering information on anyone involved in the Minnesota trial court system. MNCIS has docket information for Minnesota civil and criminal court cases, judgment records and court calendars. All of these records can be used to determine if an individual has existing, unpaid judgments, is being sued, or has been sued, if there is a criminal court case open, at least one that has resulted in a conviction or guilty plea, if there has been a divorce, child custody case, adoption, name change, probate proceeding and what time and where a court appearance is through the court calendars, and other information.
Free (taxpayer funded) on the Internet
Although MNCIS on the web (Click HERE for Access) is not reliable enough for comprehensive searches and should not be used as your only criminal background check tool (more to come, but in the meantime enjoy this try www.mncriminals.com instead, technically still “free” but slowly and surely being overrun with ads and pay options) it can tell you if a warrant is out for someone. You only need to know the person’s name, but not necessarily even the correct spelling. When performing a search by Party name, try checking the box for Soundex-a “sounds like” search in English for use when you do not know the proper spelling of a name).
Although you used to be able to get more information, privacy concerns have restricted some data available over the internet on MNCIS, However, when one hand taketh the other hand giveth: A lot of the records that are not available on the web version of MNCIS can be obtained by going to a courthouse and using (for free) the court’s public access computer terminals.
As a non-exclusive example, you can get some home addresses this way with a just name search if the person has been through the court system in a civil or criminal matter. On the web-based MNCIS, you cannot get pre-conviction records (“innocent until proven otherwise”). But at the courthouse you can get the pre-conviction records for criminal, traffic and petty misdemeanor cases. Likewise, the Violence Against Women Act, a federal law, prevents MNCIS on the internet from displaying information on harassment and domestic abuse cases, but these records can be obtained at the courthouse.
Garbage In Means Garbage Out
There are errors, people have the same names, records are not always reliably entered or available and the search engine in MNCIS makes you appreciate Google on a whole new level. The current civil court case records are pretty reliable and accurate but be careful of how much you relay on any single source of public data always confirm the information through another source. Or three if possible.