Michigan Public Records
The Michigan Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) establishes the public's right to access government records. The FOIA also sets forth exceptions to this general rule and provides procedures for requesting and obtaining public records from state and local government agencies.
Currently, incarcerated prisoners are not considered members of the general public and, as such, are not entitled to request public records under the FOIA. However, even a non-incarcerated member of the public may be denied access to certain records if disclosure of those records would violate an individual's privacy rights or if the records are subject to a statutory exemption.
How to Find Michigan Public Records
There is no statewide online database of Michigan public records. However, many local government agencies maintain their online databases of public records. Contact the agency to determine if a particular government agency has an online database.
Some Michigan public records may also be available through third-party websites. These websites often charge a fee for unlimited access to their databases.
Depending on the agency, individuals can access public records through mail, in-person, or by phone.
Are Michigan Public Records Available Online?
The Michigan court records search tool allows you to search for cases, opinions, and dockets by keyword, case name, or docket number. Meanwhile, the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services has partnered with the third-party website VitalChek to provide an online ordering system for birth, death, and marriage certificates.
What Records are Available in Michigan?
The Michigan FOIA does not explicitly list the types of records available to the public. However, Michigan courts have interpreted the law to require disclosure of any record that is not expressly exempt from disclosure.
Some of the most commonly requested types of public records in Michigan include:
- Arrest records
- Court records
- Inmate and prison records
- Vital Records
- Business licensing records
- Property records
- Driving records
- Unclaimed properties
What Records are Non-Public in Michigan?
While the Michigan FOIA provides for disclosure of most public records, several exemptions protect certain types of information from being released. These exemptions include:
- Records that would violate an individual's privacy rights
- Law enforcement records
- Certain medical records
- Certain student records
- Pending litigation records
- Trade secrets
- Personnel records
- Substance abuse treatment records
- Juvenile records
Types of Public Records Available in Michigan
Below are some specific examples of public records that are available in Michigan:
Michigan Public Criminal Records
The Michigan State Police keeps a central repository of criminal records for the state. These records include felonies and misdemeanors committed by adults and some juvenile offenses.
The Internet Criminal History Access Tool (ICHAT) is an online database that allows members of the public to search for criminal records by name. For fingerprint-based background checks, an individual must need to have their fingerprints scanned on the state's approved live scan vendors or by the nearest local law enforcement agency. You can call ahead to the law enforcement agency to make sure they provide this service.
Police Departments and Sheriffe Office in Michigan :
Arrest Records and Warrants
Arrest records are public documents that contain information about individuals who have been arrested by law enforcement. These records typically include the individual's name, date of birth, physical description, and the offense for which they were charged.
Meanwhile, arrest warrants are court orders that direct law enforcement to arrest an individual suspected of a crime. Warrants must be based on probable cause and signed by a judge. A Most Wanted List is also located on the State Police's website.
Arrest records can be accessed through a criminal history search on ICHAT. The local Sheriff's office can also provide information about outstanding warrants and court records.
Inmate and Jail Records
The Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) oversees the state's prisons and supervises offenders on parole. The MDOC provides an online search tool called Offender Tracking Information System (OTIS), which allows public members to look up inmates incarcerated in state prisons.
In addition, each county in Michigan has its own jail where individuals arrested by local law enforcement are typically held.
Jails and Prisons in Michigan :
Michigan Background Checks
Michigan follows state and federal laws regarding background checks. For the most part, criminal history information is a public record in Michigan. However, there are some exceptions for certain records, such as juvenile and substance abuse treatment records.
Fingerprints must be taken by an approved live scan vendor or a local law enforcement agency to determine whether an individual has a criminal record. The Michigan State Police also offers a name-based search through ICHAT.
Businesses can conduct employment background checks in Michigan. However, there are some restrictions on what types of information employers can request and how they can use it. For example, employers cannot ask about an applicant's criminal history on an initial job application.
Some businesses are also required to conduct background checks on employees, such as those working in daycare, healthcare, or with vulnerable adults.
How to find Sex Offenders in Michigan
The Michigan Sex Offender Registry, regularly maintained and updated by the Michigan State Police, contains the names, addresses, and other information of registered sex offenders in Michigan. The public can access this information through the registry's website.
To find sex offenders in your area, you can search by neighborhood map and name. You can also see a list of published, incarcerated, and non-compliant offenders.
Michigan Public Vital Records
The Division for Vital Records and Health Statistics under the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services is responsible for issuing birth, death, and marriage certificates. They also issue vital records for divorces that occurred in Michigan since 1897.
You can request certificates through the following methods:
- Online: You can order birth, death, marriage, and divorce certificates through the VitalChek website.
- By Mail: You can print out an application form from the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services website and mail it to the address listed on the form with a photocopy of your valid photo ID and the appropriate fees.
- In Person: An appointment is required to request certificates in person. You can schedule an appointment here. The office is available for in-person requests on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 10:00 am - 2:00 pm.
- By Phone: Will-Call service is available by ordering online on VitalChek and picking up your order at the office. Tuesdays and Thursdays are the only days and hours that Will-Call can be utilized. Only Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm are available for pick-up. The applicant must pick up their order and have a valid ID and e-mail notification upon arrival.
Michigan Court Records
As mentioned earlier, the Michigan court records search tool within the Michigan court system's website allows users to conduct a name-based search of court records.
If you are looking for a case in a district or circuit court, you need to go to the local court where the case was filed and request access to the records.
State Court System in Michigan
The court system in Michigan is divided into three levels:
- The Supreme Court
- The Court of Appeals
- Trail Courts
The Supreme Court is the state's highest court and is responsible for hearing appeals from the Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals hears appeals from the trial courts.
There are two types of trial courts in Michigan:
- District Courts: These handle small claims, misdemeanors, traffic offenses, probates, and civil cases involving less than $25,000.
- Circuit Courts: These have jurisdiction over more serious criminal cases, felony cases, and civil cases involving more than $25,000.
Courts in Michigan :
The Michigan Secretary of State is responsible for issuing and maintaining driving records. You can order your driving record through the following methods:
- Online: You can order your driving record online through the Michigan Secretary of State's website. You must create an account and log in to request your record.
- By Mail: Complete this application form and send it to the address listed on the form along with a photocopy of your valid photo ID and the appropriate fees.
- In Person: Visit any Secretary of State office to request your driving record in person by scheduling an appointment. You must bring a photocopy of your valid photo ID and the fee.
Civil Driving Infractions
Traffic violations, such as speeding and running a red light, are considered civil infractions in Michigan. This means you will not be charged with a crime if you are found guilty of an infraction.
However, you may have to pay a fine and add points to your driving record. Your driver's license may be suspended or revoked if you accumulate too many points.
You can contest a civil infraction by pleading guilty with an explanation or not guilty. If you plead not guilty, you will have to appear in court.
Michigan License Plate Lookup
While driving records are considered public information in Michigan and are available to the general public, license plate information is not.
However, you can request license plate information from the Michigan Secretary of State's office if you have a legitimate reason for needing it. You will need to contact the office by phone or in person to request this information.
Third-party websites such as InfoTracer can also provide you with license plate information if you enter the license plate number and state.
Michigan Property and Asset Records Online
Property records are maintained by the Register of Deeds in each county. You can search for the contact information and address of the county register of deeds office on the website of Michigan State.
To search for property records online, you can visit the county register of deeds website in the county where the property is located. This depends on the availability of the records in the specific county.
For instance, some counties have their property records online while others do not.
You will need to enter your name or a business name to see if any unclaimed properties belong to you.
Important Government Agencies in Michigan
Several government agencies in Michigan might be of use to you. These include:
- Michigan Secretary of State
- State Governor
- Michigan State Archives
- Michigan Legislature
- Department of Attorney General
- Michigan Department of Health & Human Services
- Michigan State Police
- Michigan Courts
- Michigan Department of Treasury
- Michigan Department of Corrections
Counties in Michigan
- Grand Traverse
- Presque Isle
- Saint Clair
- Saint Joseph
- Van Buren
Other Records in Michigan
List of Content
- How to Find Michigan Public Records
- What Records are Available in Michigan?
- Types of Public Records Available in Michigan
- Michigan Public Criminal Records
- Arrest Records and Warrants
- Inmate and Jail Records
- Michigan Background Checks
- How to find Sex Offenders in Michigan
- Michigan Public Vital Records
- Michigan Court Records
- Driving Records
- Civil Driving Infractions
- Michigan License Plate Lookup
- Michigan Property and Asset Records Online
- Important Government Agencies in Michigan
- Other Records