South Dakota Arrest Records and Warrant Search

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How do you conduct a warrant check and a search for arrest records in South Dakota?

People seldom have a clear idea about what arrests records are all about. In fact, most end up confusing an arrest report with criminal records. Those who are interested in a warrant lookup also have a similar problem.

While some of them are actually interested in finding out about the warrants in a specific individual’s name, others are essentially looking for the warrant list for South Dakota or a specific county of the state. It is normal to assume that any form of SD warrants and arrests inquiry will get them all the information they need.

Then, there is the misconception that most law enforcement agencies will cooperate completely when it comes to handing out such data. Continue reading to know if it is possible to get the police to give you their arrest log and which other agency can offer help with information on arrest warrants. But first, let’s cut through the confusion with a few definitions and descriptions.

Section 1- Arrest Records

What exactly are arrest records in South Dakota?

“Arrest records” is a popular term used to refer to a person’s criminal history information. However, in truth, an arrest report will tell you about all those times when the police detained your subject. So, arrests records are likely to contain details such as:

  • The full name of the subject.
  • Age and date of birth.
  • Possibly other information that can help in identification.
  • Name of the agency and/or officer who made the arrest.
  • Location of the arrest.
  • Charges pressed after the arrest.
  • Detention facility where the individual is being held if still incarcerated.
  • Bail bond release data if bail has been granted.

Yes, the local police and the judiciary will have a lot more information on every criminal complaint filed against your subject. However, details on active warrants and criminal trial, including case disposition, sentencing, and correctional data, are not always available to the public.

How different is an arrest report from a criminal background search report?

The Computerized Criminal History System of South Dakota maintains criminal records for the state. Information for criminal records searches is sourced from this repository, which has details on felony and misdemeanor cases. The response to such inquiries includes information on:  

  • All arrests made in connection with such matters.
  • The eventual court proceedings initiated against such charges in the tribunals across the state.
  • Penitentiary and other correctional entries linked to the completion of the sentence delivered in such cases.
  • Follow up information, including commuting sentences, parole, and release after completing the prison term.

The CCH is used for civilian initiated warrant searches in SD. Also, the information contained in this repository is released frequently to law enforcement and justice communities from across the state and country.

These agencies use it for criminal investigations, making arrests, setting bail/bond, filing charges, considering plea bargains, conviction, sentencing, probationary release, and placement of the convict in a correctional facility that suits his/her risk level, licensing and employment.

Who keeps information on SD arrests and criminal records?

In the state, information on criminal matters is collected and maintained by the Division of Criminal Investigation. The DCI hosts a special division for maintaining their crime history repositories and disseminating this information to interested parties.

Known as the Identification Section (ID), this agency’s branch keeps the central criminal and crime records repository for the state. The ID maintains not only the criminal records database but also the central repository of fingerprint records.

The AFIS or Automated Fingerprint Identification System includes all fingerprints captured after arrests by local law enforcement agencies. This database is further linked to the Midwest Automated Fingerprint Identification Network.  ID also maintains the South Dakota sex offender registry and offers criminal history checks at the state and federal level.

At this time, the CCH contains over 230,000 criminal records, and in a year, it processes information on over 30,000 arrests, of which about 60% of the incidents about repeat offenders. Annually, the agency initiates nearly 22,000 warrant searches on behalf of civilian applicants. Furthermore, it also offers informational support to the police and the judiciary.

Who can search for arrest records and warrants in SD?

There is no statute in the South Dakota Codified Laws that allow for disseminating crime history data, nor is there any rule that prohibits or restricts information on criminal matters and wrongdoers. This has created an environment of ambiguity regarding criminal records on offer from local law enforcement and judicial agencies.

So, as far as information on arrests and warrants goes, you will find that while some law enforcement offices readily offer it, others hold it back. As far as criminal records from DCI are concerned, just about anybody can request these.

However, these investigations can only be conducted based on the subject’s fingerprints. Moreover, a signed consent form from the subject is required to launch the search. This document specifically states that the subject is authorizing the Division of Criminal Investigation to release both public and confidential crime data to the applicant.

Should you go to the Division of Criminal Investigation for an arrest inquiry in SD?

The arrest records maintained in the CCH are 100% fingerprint-based, meaning that any inquiry on criminal history can only be initiated based on fingerprints. These are collected at the time of arrests and stored in the AFIS linked to the CCH system.

While the police have 24/7 access to this data via telecommunication, civilians interested in crime-related information will have to approach the Identification Section (ID) for a criminal background report.

The South Dakota DCI is the only criminal justice agency that can process fingerprint-based crime history checks. The agency offers two options for conducting inquiries about outstanding warrants and arrest records.

It is possible to request information exclusively from the state of South Dakota or get a cumulative FBI and SD crime history check done. Fingerprint kits are available free of cost, and to obtain these, you can call the Identification Section of the DCI at 605-773-3331. You will require:

Fingerprinting: To get the prints taken for the state only check, you will have to approach the local law enforcement agency with the ID’s material. The sheriff’s office may have its own fee structure in place for such services. For an FBI and SD crime check, you will need to submit two sets of fingerprints, one for the DCI check and the other for the FBI inquiry. You will need FBI fingerprint cards, which can be procured from the requesting agency for the latter.

Information needed: For both the state and FBI inquiries, you would need to furnish the name, gender, date of birth, and social security number of the subject along with the signed authorization form available at

Fees: The state only checks understandably cost less at $24, while the FBI plus SD check will set you back by $43.25.

After all the paperwork is received, the DCI will furnish information on any criminal charges listed in the subject’s name. Sealed records (expunged through a court order), information on juvenile offenses, out of state and federal crime data (unless a federal inquiry is also being conducted), and minor traffic infraction charges will not be included in the criminal history report.

Is it possible to get in touch with the local police for information on recent arrests in SD?

Yes, it sure is! The important thing to understand is that the local police make arrests and are also responsible for processing the detainee immediately after he/she is taken into custody. In fact, it is they who provide information on arrests that is eventually added to the CCH database.

The best part is that, where available, this information is freely offered online. So, I would definitely recommend that before you do anything else, check the local sheriff’s department’s website. You are likely to find the arrest log for the area that goes back to anywhere between 24 -48 hours and, in some jurisdictions, even back to 15-30 days.

Also, if this information is provided online, it will be handed over to you without the need for registration. In other words, you can be discreet about the arrest inquiry. Although the day’s arrest list is part of the police blotter, the latter has more extensive information.

But the good news is that many police departments offer both their blotter and their arrest list online. However, the information will be limited to the jurisdiction of the agency, offering the data. For instance, if you find the information on the Sheriff’s Department of Union County website, it will only be about arrests made by them and not those made by the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office.

Can you access SD jail records?

South Dakota has conflicting laws on whether inmate information can be released to the general public (anybody other than the justice agencies and the victim) and, if it can be, the extent of the data that can be disclosed. Because of this, the state was, until recently, one among the few in the country that did not offer the provision to look up prisoner information online.

Fortunately, some attempts have been made in the direction of bringing more transparency to the correctional system. This has resulted in the availability of the new online search feature on the DOC’s website. Of course, it is still possible to do things the old school way and get in touch with the agency through phone, mail, or in person.

To use the online inmate search facility, you will need the DOC assigned prisoner number or the first and the last name of the inmate. Use this information on In response, you can expect to find details such as:

  • All the current convictions listed in the name of the prisoner.
  • Key dates, including term end, parole, and suspended sentence release.
  • Identifying details of the prisoner. Although physical traits are given, the DOC does not release photographs of the prisoners in their database.

It is also possible to call the DOC’s central records office on 605-367-5190 or 605 -367-5140 to access inmate information. Alternatively, you could get in touch with the agency through their office at 3200 East Highway 34, c/o 500 East Capitol Avenue, Pierre, SD 57501. The DOC website is available at

Section 2- Arrest warrants

What are arrest warrants?

The term “arrest warrants” is used for court issued orders of the arrest. These orders are issued in connection with both felony and misdemeanor crimes. Also, arrest orders can be released in matters that concern traffic and civic ordinance violations and cases where a defendant stands in contempt of court through disobedience. Here are three variations of this term that you will, no doubt, come across:

  • Active warrants: These are arrest orders that were issued recently
  • Outstanding warrants: This term is used for older orders that were typically issued 2 or more years ago.
  • Bench warrants: These warrants are issued without an affidavit from the police (read the information on the issue arrest warrants below).

How are warrants issued in South Dakota?

Section 23A-2-1, Rule 3 of the SDCL, defines the complaint based on which an arrest warrant can be sanctioned. It states that to move the court for an active warrant, the police have to file a written statement declaring the essential facts that constitute the criminal charges sought.

This affidavit has to be signed by a member of the justice (read state prosecutor) or law enforcement community in the presence of an entity authorized to administer oaths in the state. Active warrants from South Dakota are issued when the police manage to bring in enough evidence to show reasonable cause against the suspect.

However, unless the crime in question is heinous or if the prosecution places an express request for an arrest warrant, or if the defendant has a history of disobeying court orders, the magistrate will prefer to issue a summons instead of directives for arrests.

Summonses merely call for the appearance of the accused in the court of law. However, if the defendant fails to pay heed to this order, the judge will issue an active warrant for his arrest. When a complaint is filed with the court, two conditions have to be met for the magistrate to release an arrest warrant:

  • The affidavit should show that an act, which could be deemed criminal in nature under the laws of the state, was indeed committed.
  • There is a strong possibility based on the proof that this crime was commissioned by the accused.

Probable cause is typically established through written information given in the complaint filed by the sheriff’s department. However, the magistrate can call on whether witness testimony can be admitted instead of the written statement.

This is frequently chosen as the course of action in cases where the perpetrator victimized words, or those who have witnessed the commissioning of the crime hold more weight than the written evidence presented before the bench.

Moreover, the sitting judge also decides whether hearsay evidence in its entirety is admissible or non-hearsay proof would also be needed to establish reasonable cause in the matter. When witness testimony forms the basis of the complaint, it can be relayed to the magistrate by telephone or other means. The same can be later transcribed and filed in court as the complaint proper on which the arrest warrant is released.

What happens after the issue of arrest warrants in South Dakota?

Active warrants are directed at all law enforcement agents, and such orders can be transmitted to multiple police officers. The copies of such a directive will hold the same authority as the original order.

The arresting officer need not have the decree on his person when taking an accused into custody. However, the document will have to be furnished upon request at a later stage. Also, law enforcement agents are legally bound to advise the suspect, who is being detained, of the charges that were sought against him and the active warrant’s release in his name.

According to SDCL 23A-2-8, an arrest warrant can be served in any place within the state of South Dakota unless it was issued in connection with local ordinance violations. In such cases, its geographic scope will be limited to the county in which it was released. Similarly, an outstanding warrant remains valid until the offender is arrested, as the statute of limitations does not apply to such orders.

What are the options for a warrant search in SD?

  1. An online court records search: The SD judiciary’s dockets can be used to conduct warrant searches and criminal history inquiries. The advantages of using the services of the court administration are that you can conduct the inquiry online. Plus, it is possible to find information on both criminal and civil cases that your subject is involved in.

The statewide court dockets database has information on criminal cases that dates back to 1989, while civil cases have been filed since 2003 onward. It is possible to conduct a one-time search for a fee of $20 or register with the judiciary for multiple prepaid inquiries. Registration is free, but you will be charged for every investigation. The facility can be accessed through the website at You will have to pay separately for civil and criminal case dockets.

  1. Visiting the local courthouse: You can also approach the Clerk of Court’s office for the judicial records you need. In larger counties, the courthouse will have public service terminals that can be used for free to access civil and criminal court dockets. But, you will have to pay for printouts and copies that you may need. You can find information on the courts in your county/area through the tool at
  2. A warrant lookup through the police: Like for arrest records, I also recommend that you look at the local sheriff’s office’s website for their warrant list. Although this facility is not available in all counties, several law enforcement agencies in SD do provide their warrant database online. Furthermore, you may also want to check their social media pages as these usually have public service announcements about absconders and dangerous criminals on the run.

What happens if an SD warrant check in my name comes back positive?

If there is a warrant out against you, it is not a matter of whether you will be arrested but more a matter of when you will be arrested, geography notwithstanding. Yes, arrest warrants from SD can be served outside the state.

In fact, if the crime in question is a felony, a warrant issued in the state can and will be served anywhere across the country. Once arrested, the agency that has detained you will hold you in custody till the Department of Justice of SD pays to bring you to the state to stand trial.

Because an arrest is imminent once a warrant is issued, I would highly recommend that you sort out the matter at once regardless of the crime that led to the order’s issue. If it is a bench warrant that merely involves disobeying a court order about fines or payments, cough up the greenbacks and get the warrant issue solved.

If the crime is of a serious nature, get in touch with a lawyer who can help you with the post-arrest procedure. The thing to understand about warrants is that they will lead to your arrest as soon as you engage with a law enforcement agency in any manner.