Michigan is one of those states that makes it easy for the public to conduct criminal record searches, look at offender searches and find court records. That’s because much of what the state keeps as records is online.
However, none of this information is in one place. The Judiciary and Corrections sites separate from the criminal records site. The Michigan State Police Criminal History Record site has links to begin a criminal record search, as well as links to submit a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, link to the sex offender registery and report idenity theft. There is even a chat feature to get answers to questions about how to search.
What is a criminal record?
A criminal record is an official document detailing a person’s criminal convictions, pending criminal cases, prior arrests, and other interactions with law enforcement agencies. Additional names for a criminal record include criminal history record, rap sheet, and a police record.
As with marriage records and court records, criminal records are generally public records in the United States and can be accessed through a criminal background check. However, public access to specific criminal record information varies from state to state.
In the State of Michigan criminal records are available to the public online, by mail, and in-person.
What is included in a Michigan criminal record?
As criminal records are kept by law enforcement agencies at all levels of government in the United States, a Michigan criminal record may vary in format and content depending on the law enforcement database from which it is accessed.
Generally, a Michigan criminal record will include the following information:
- A person’s full name and possible aliases
- Personal information such as age, date of birth, sex, ethnicity, height, weight, and other physical characteristics
- Fingerprints and mugshot
- Misdemeanor criminal offenses and convictions
- Felony criminal offenses and convictions
- Traffic records
- Past and outstanding arrest warrants
- Prior arrests
- Pending and dismissed charges
Why would someone access a criminal record?
There are many reasons someone would want to access criminal records.
- One common reason is to get a background check as part of licensing for certain professions such as nursing, doctors, elder caregivers, anyone who works with children, contractors and some subcontractors, law enforcement, and those who want to volunteer.
- Other common reasons for obtaining criminal records are for adoptions, to foster a child, for work visas, or as part of an ongoing civil or criminal case.
- Some people obtain them in order to challenge fraudulent information in them.
What’s the difference between an infraction, misdemeanor, and felony?
When you access a criminal record, the person listed on the record may have an offense listed. Criminal offenses are usually broken into three categories: Infractions, misdemeanors, and felonies.
An infraction is a minor violation, a misdemeanor is more serious, and a felony is the most serious type of crime.
To better understand the information listed on a criminal record, here’s a quick overview of each offense and its severity:
- Infraction: A small traffic violation or littering are considered infractions. An infraction is a minor violation of the law. Usually, punishments are a warning or a fine. Typically, no jail time is associated with an infraction.
- Misdemeanor: If someone were to get a DUI or a drug violation, it’s considered a misdemeanor. A misdemeanor is more serious than an infraction but less severe than a felony. Jail time of less than a year or probation are usually associated with these types of crimes. Likely, the offender will do time in a local or county jail.
- Felony: Murder, rape, and arson are considered felony charges. A felony is the most serious type of crime. Offenders are typically sentenced to jail for more than a year and are likely held in a state or federal facility.
What is the difference between a Michigan arrest record and a Michigan criminal record?
An arrest record is an official document including the details of a specific arrest. A criminal record is a more comprehensive document that includes a person’s entire criminal background known to law enforcement agencies.
Both types of documents are usually public records in the United States, although information about specific arrests may be sealed and rendered inaccessible to the public for a variety of reasons.
Whether an arrest record or a criminal record is accessed, the information listed is for state crimes only. If a person is involved in a federal crime, this information is not listed on a state record.
How do I search for a Michigan criminal record?
The place to start is at the Michigan State Patrol website. There are two ways to search for criminal records. Those looking can search using the name only. That is the least accurate of the methods because there could be two or more people with the same name. To get the best results, be sure to have the person’s full legal name and spell it correctly. It is also a good practice to have their birthdate, gender, and any other identifying information to narrow down the search. There is a fee to do this.
Those wanting criminal records can also search by fingerprint. This is the most accurate method as fingerprints are unique to every person. Most people use this method for licensing, visas, adoptions and other legal situations as most of those require a fingerprint background check.
Those wanting to find out an offender’s status can do so by going on the Michigan Department of Corrections website. Convicts are monitored with the Offender Tracking Information System (OTIS). The system covers information about prisoners, parolees, and probationers either under supervision or within three years of their supervision discharge date. It doesn’t contain information exempted from open records laws, information about those not yet convicted or those in country or city jails. It also doesn’t have information about those sentenced only to county jails as this features information on those in the state system.
How do I obtain a physical copy of a Michigan criminal record?
Information obtained through the name-based system can be printed out. However, the information is only available after the fee is paid and is only available for seven days before the searcher would need to repurchase it. It can’t be mailed.
The fingerprint background check is a hard copy that is either mailed, picked up, or can be printed.
The person wanting the check must first fill out a Live Scan Fingerprint Background request form, then make an appointment with a certified Live Scan vendor. A list is on the website. The vendor may charge for their services but will submit prints to the state and the FBI for free. Generally, it takes about seven days to get the records.
Those wanting this service must have an agency ID number for the records to be sent to them. There is a phone number on the site people can call to find out how to get one.
How do I search for Michigan criminal case court records?
There is an easy-to-use judicial website at Michigan Courts where people can look up cases either in district court, the appellate court, or the state Supreme Court. There are three ways to do a search.
- The first is by the name of a party to the case and the second is by an attorney.
- The most convenient and accurate way to look up a case on the site is by docket number.
- Those looking for other things like court opinions or orders can also follow those links on the site.
There is also an old-fashioned way of obtaining court records. Those searching can go to the court that tried the case and obtain them from the Clerk of Court. There will be a fee for labor and copying. Many courthouses have public computers for people to do their own searches. However, be aware that many remain closed or with limited access because of COVID-19 so call ahead before making a trip.
Does Michigan allow criminal records to be sealed or expunged?
Michigan has long allowed expungement but a new law passed in October 2020 revamps the process. This state is a little different is that expungement and sealing is the same thing. Records that are expunged are hidden from public view. There isn’t a process for removing convictions from a criminal record in Michigan.
The new bill, called the “Clean Slate Option” expands eligibility for expungement. It allows those who have gone for several years without committing a crime to opt to have their records sealed. Changes include automatically sealing certain misdemeanors after seven years and certain felonies after 10 years. It also raises the number of cases that can be sealed.
How can I have false information on a Michigan criminal record corrected?
The first thing to do is get a fingerprint copy of the criminal record. Then, you have to gather your proof of the correct information. This could be a certified copy from the court handling the case with the correct information, copies of the incident report, or any other proof you may have.
Many of these situations occur because of a wrong birthday or confusion with someone else of a similar name. Providing identifying information about yourself and where you were when the incident occurred can do a lot to clear the record. Once the information is gathered, mail copies with a request to:
Michigan State Police
CRD Identification Section
P.O. Box 30634
Lansing, Michigan, 48909
It usually takes between four to six weeks to get it cleared.
How long are Michigan criminal records kept on file?
Criminal records in Michigan are kept on file indefinitely. Even those that are sealed are still part of a record, even though they are hidden from public view.