What is a Criminal Record in Michigan?
In Michigan, criminal records are official documents that provide details of criminal activities committed by individuals within the state. Also known as rap sheets, these records contain information about arrests, indictments, dispositions, and convictions. Generally, the information found in criminal records is compiled from police records, as well as information held by local and state law enforcement agencies, courts, and correctional facilities in Michigan.
Are Criminal Records Public in Michigan?
Yes. The Michigan Freedom of Information Act allows individuals to access criminal records provided they make requests to the approved record custodians. A public criminal record search in Michigan may be restricted if it contains sensitive or confidential information.
Michigan criminal records provide the following information about individuals arrested for alleged crimes and convicted criminals:
- Full name including known aliases
- Date of birth, gender, and race
- Identifying personal data such as fingerprints and mugshots
- Criminal history including past and current offenses, indictments, and convictions
- Past and outstanding warrants and arrest history
Criminal records, considered public in the United States, are made available through some third-party aggregate sites. Searching with third-party websites is often easier as the information is not limited to geographic record availability. Information found on third-party websites can serve as a jump-off point for parties searching for a specific record or multiple records. Typically, requesters must provide the following information to gain access to these records:
- The record subject’s name, unless the subject is a juvenile.
- The record subjects’ last known location, including cities, counties, and states.
Third-party websites offer these search services, but they are not government-sponsored. Availability of records may vary.
How to Obtain Criminal Records in Michigan?
State and municipal bodies, including courts and law enforcement agencies, keep criminal records in Michigan. Most of these are public records available online on the websites of these government agencies. For instance, requesters may perform a criminal record search on the Internet Criminal History Access Tool (ICHAT) for $10 per subject. Requesters who cannot afford to per the search fee may request a fee waiver in writing. The record custodian is more likely to grant the request for a free public criminal record check if releasing the records serves the public’s interest rather than commercial interests.
What are Arrest Records in Michigan?
Michigan arrest records are documents detailing the arrests of individuals taken into custody by state and local law enforcement agencies. Note that an arrest record is not proof of criminal activity. Arrest records only show that an arrest was made in relation to an alleged crime. While arrest records can be found in police records, police records are not part of arrest records. A Michigan arrest record contains the following information:
- Name, gender, date of birth, and other details identifying the arrestee
- Date, time, and place of the arrest
- Summary of the alleged offense leading to the arrest
- Name of the arresting law enforcement officer
- Name and address of the county/city jail or state detention center where the arrestee is detained
Are Arrest Records Public Information in Michigan?
Yes, public arrest records in Michigan are obtainable through the arresting agency—typically the sheriff’s office or the local police department. Generally, these agencies will have a website where interested persons may look up free arrest records in Michigan. However, recent arrest mugshots are not always available on these repositories. Interested persons may also lookup public arrest records by contacting the arresting agency in person or sending a mail request.
What are Arrest Warrants in Michigan?
Arrest warrants in Michigan are court documents authorizing police officers to detain named individuals. To perform an active warrant search in Michigan, requesters must make a valid request to the county sheriff or local law enforcement agency in charge of the document. A judge may then grant the request and sign a warrant to arrest the individual named in the document and seize personal property as evidence of the alleged crime. The court also sets validity periods for most arrest warrants.
A Michigan arrest warrant provides the following details:
- The name and other personally identifying information of the subject
- Description of the alleged offense
- Time when the arrest may happen
- Validity period and expiration date of the warrant
- Name of the official issuing the warrant and date of issuance
What are Michigan Inmate Records?
Michigan inmate records the entry, stay, and release of individuals in various correctional and detention facilities in the state. Interested persons perform an inmate search via the Offender Information Tracking System. Inmate records obtained from the system are usually prepared by prison and jail authorities. Generally, the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) oversees the operations of state prisons while local law enforcement agencies manage county and city jails.
Publicly available inmate records in Michigan include the following information:
- Inmate name, gender, race, and date of birth
- Booking photo
- Inmate’s current location
- Expected release date
What is the Michigan Sex Offender Registry?
Michigan sex offender listings, also known as Michigan Public Sex Offender Registry (PSOR), contains the information of registered sex offenders in the state. However, residents can equally use the National Sex Offender Registry to find registered sex offenders in Michigan and other surrounding areas. Local law enforcement agencies handle sex offender registration in different counties of Michigan while the state police collate these records into a central registry. In accordance with the state’s Megan’s law, the Michigan State Police makes the PSOR available to the public. Sex offender information available to the public include:
- Offender Name and known alias(es)
- Date of birth
- Registration number and registration details
- Physical characteristics like scars, marks, and tattoos
- Offense information
- Address/campus/employment/vehicle information
What is a DUI in Michigan?
Per the state’s drunk driving laws, a DUI in Michigan refers to the crime of driving under the influence of intoxicating or inebriating substances. Generally, alcohol is the most common of prohibited substances that motorists consume. Law enforcement will charge a person with drunk driving if a chemical test reveals a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or higher
In addition to possible criminal charges, motorists will have their licenses suspended for at least 60 days. The suspension period increases with aggravating circumstances, such as leaving the scene of a commercial motor vehicle accident, drunk driving with a minor, and eluding an officer. Besides license suspension, impaired drivers face court-imposed penalties such as jail time and mandatory installation of alcohol ignition interlock. The court may require repeat offenders to complete a substance abuse treatment program or driver's education course. Another consequence of OWI in Michigan is that the drunk driving conviction remains on the driver’s record for life.
What are Misdemeanors in Michigan?
Misdemeanors in Michigan are less serious crimes than felonies. In Michigan, there are three classes of misdemeanors. These are:
- 93-Day Misdemeanors: these are punishable by up to 93 days in jail, a fine amount up to $500, or both. Individuals can be charged for 93-day misdemeanors under state or local laws. Some misdemeanors are charged under both state and local laws. Examples of misdemeanors in this category are first offense DUI, assault, and battery, disturbing the peace, and embezzlement of property or money valued under $200
- 1-Year Misdemeanors: these are punished by up to a year in jail, fines up to $1000, or both. Examples include second-offense DUI, larceny of properties between $200 and $1,000), shoplifting, and intentional discharge of a firearm but without intent to injure
- High Court Misdemeanors: these are the most serious misdemeanors in Michigan and carry the same punishments as Class G and H felonies. High court misdemeanors are punishable by up to 2 years in jail, up to $2,000 in fines, or both. Examples are indecent exposure, second-offense domestic assault, and negligent homicide by vehicle
What is a Felony in Michigan?
In Michigan, a felony is a serious crime punishable by more than one year in jail. There are eight felony classes in Michigan grouped from Class A to Class H. Class A felonies are the most serious while Class H felonies are the least serious felony crimes.
- Class A felonies are punished with up to life in prison or any number of years in prison. Examples include first- and second-degree murder, kidnapping, assault with a deadly weapon with intent to rob or steal, and first-degree rape
- Class B felonies are punished with up to 20 years in prison. Examples are second-degree arson, second-degree child abuse, and production of child pornography
- Class C felonies are punished with up to 15 years in prison. Examples include manslaughter, human trafficking resulting in injury, and robbery
- Class D felonies are punished with up to 10 years in prison. Some examples are grand larceny, embezzlement (property valued at $20,000 or more), and human trafficking
- Class E felonies are punished with up to 5 years in prison. Examples are carrying a weapon with unlawful intent, first-degree retail fraud, and breaking and entering
- Class F felonies are punished with up to 4 years in prison. Examples include manufacture, delivery, or possession with intent to deliver less than 5 kilograms of marijuana and loan and credit card application fraud
- Class G felonies are punished with up to 2 years in prison. Examples include writing a bad check for an amount greater than $500, lobbyists giving gifts, and second-offense domestic assault
- Class H felonies are punishable by jail time or alternatives like treatment, probation, and electronic monitoring. Examples of these crimes include using a stolen state identification card to commit a felony, driving with a suspended license, and welfare fraud involving an amount over $500
What is Probation and Parole in Michigan?
Michigan uses indeterminate sentences for convicts. That means each inmate has a minimum and maximum jail term. An inmate is only eligible for parole after completing the minimum jail term. The Parole Board determines whether to release inmates on parole or not. Information about inmate parole including minimum jail terms is available online on the MDOC OTIS (Offender Tracking Information System) portal. To contact the Michigan Parole Board, complete this webform on the MDOC website.
Michigan probation records are official documents that provide details of deferred sentences for convicted individuals allowed by courts to serve their sentences outside correctional facilities. Although serving suspended sentences out of custody, probation still involves supervising those given this privilege. The MDOC has 10 parole and probation offices all over the state and assigns probationers to probation agents throughout the duration of their supervised freedom.
What are Juvenile Criminal Records?
Michigan does not try underage individuals as adults unless for felonies punishable by life sentences, offenses with a maximum penalty of 10 years and above, and offenses involving the use or possession of a weapon. Besides these exceptions, Michigan does not regard juvenile adjudications as criminal convictions.
In Michigan, juvenile criminal records are usually sealed records providing details of the criminal activities of juveniles. However, court and law enforcement records regarding crimes committed by a juvenile may be available to the public unless sealed or expunged by a court. The Michigan juvenile justice system is the special juvenile court set aside to handle criminal cases involving minors in the state.
What are Conviction Records?
Michigan conviction records provide details of court proceedings during indictments, pleas, hearings, and sentencing of individuals found guilty. Conviction records can be from criminal and civil court cases. These records describe the charges brought against convicted individuals and the resulting punishments recommended by judges or juries. Such punishments include jail time, fines, probation, and parole. Members of the public can find courts’ final judgments in conviction records unless they are expunged or the records sealed.
Michigan History and Accuracy of Criminal Records
Electronic recordkeeping has improved the accuracy of criminal records kept by courts and law enforcement agencies in Michigan. Prior to this, these records are written/typed on paper and filed away. This system is prone to human error and deterioration of physical records. Digitization eliminates most of these concerns by making it easier to record, store, and retrieve records.
How to Find Michigan Criminal History Record for Free
Section 28.241a of the Michigan Compiled Laws (MCL) defines a "criminal history record" as a government record of a person's criminal past, which carries personal descriptors plus felony and misdemeanor arrests, charges, and convictions.
The state police (MSP) compiles, preserves, and disseminates criminal history records in Michigan. The public can access these records by conducting name-based Michigan criminal background checks through the agency's Internet Criminal History Access Tool (ICHAT). This service costs $10 per search. However, requesters can send a written fee waiver request to the MSP's Records Resource Section at MSPRecords@Michigan.gov.
Generally, public criminal record fees are only waived if one meets the eligibility requirements, specifically if one can prove indigency or if the record's release will serve a public purpose. Eligible requesters can submit a DIR-103 Affidavit of Indigency with their written request. Individuals who qualify will have the first $20 of the fee waived under the state's FOIA laws (MCL 15.234). Ineligible parties include:
- A person who has received copies at a discounted price under MCL 15.234 twice in the same year
- A person requesting information jointly with outside parties, where the external parties are providing payment or other compensation to the requester
MCL 15.234 also allows certain nonprofit organizations to benefit from the FOIA fee waiver.
Are Police Records Public in Michigan?
Yes, police records are open to the public under the Michigan Freedom of Information Act. Police records refer to all documents created, collated, or stored by law enforcement agencies related to the investigation or examination of persons and incidents. Examples include accident reports, offense reports, criminal histories, 911 recordings, investigative reports, mugshots, etc.
Michigan law exempts certain police records from public access. According to MCL 13.243, police records are not publicly released when disclosure would:
- Interfere with a law enforcement proceeding
- Deny an individual a fair trial or impartial administrative adjudication
- Constitute an unwanted invasion of personal privacy
- Divulge a confidential source or confidential information provided by the source
- Reveal investigative techniques or procedures
- Jeopardize the physical safety and life of law enforcement personnel
How to Obtain Police Records in Michigan
Any individual who wishes to obtain a Michigan police record can submit a written request under the state's FOIA law. The request should be submitted to the law enforcement agency maintaining the record. Submissions can be made in person or by mail, but some agencies (such as the Michigan State Police) accept requests through online portals. It is advised that people do not send the same request via different methods.
Information that a requester must submit to obtain a Michigan police record includes their full name, address, and phone number. In addition to the requester's personal information, details about the police record being solicited will be required. This includes the date of an incident, case number, and name of the arrested person. A requester must also indicate the type of record they wish to obtain, such as an accident report, arrest report, incident report, etc.
Finally, a requester may need to pay a fee to obtain a copy of the police record. Cash is generally acceptable when submitting a request in person, while a check or money order may be required for mail requests and a credit/debit card for online requests (if offered).
Are Police Reports Public Record?
Yes, police reports are publicly available under Michigan's Freedom of Information Act. The Act gives citizens the legal right to inspect or make copies of government records upon request. However, incarcerated persons do not have this right of access.
A police report is generated by a law enforcement officer who responds to a crime scene or an incident requiring police attention. It typically contains details of the crime or incident, witness statements, and other valuable information. Examples include:
- DUI arrest police report
- Car accident police report
- Domestic violence report
- Crime report
- Intelligence report
- Administrative report
How to File a Police Report with Michigan Law Enforcement
For incidents that require immediate police intervention in Michigan, residents can contact local law enforcement by calling 911. However, when the incident is a non-emergency, individuals can visit a police station front desk to speak with an officer or call the respective police agency's non-emergency number to file a police report and request an officer to be sent to the complainant's location.
Citizens can also file non-emergency police reports online via a police agency's online reporting tool. However, one must note that only certain non-emergency incidents can be reported online in any jurisdiction, and these reportable incidents vary by city or county. Examples include harassing phone calls, theft, vehicle crash, vandalism, lost property, etc.
Despite the method one uses to file a police report in Michigan, certain information must be submitted to the police when reporting a crime or incident. For example:
- The complainant's name, address, date of birth, home/work address, and phone number.
- Physical description of suspects (height, eye color, hair color, race, tattoos, piercings, etc.).
- The name, residential/work address, or phone number of any other involved person.
- The vehicle registration or title/insurance certificate (if the vehicle was stolen)
- Copies of statements of accounts and other financial documents (for fraud or identity theft cases)
- A description of the properties that were damaged or stolen. The description may include the color, model, brand, serial number, value of the product, and other identifying features.
Where to Find Free Public Police Records
In Michigan, the public can inspect police records for free under the Freedom of Information Act. Such record requests can be made at a police record custodian's office during regular business hours. However, fees may apply if the requester needs copies of a police record.
Additionally, individuals can inspect certain public police records for free via online databases provided by law enforcement agencies. For example, the public may review arrest logs or inmate records for free on a local county sheriff's website.
How to Find Mugshots in Michigan
A mugshot is a pictorial representation of an arrested person. Mugshots are typically taken when an individual enters the custody of a law enforcement agency due to the alleged perpetration of a criminal offense. A mugshot typically includes a person's front and side profile and forms part of a police booking record.
Mugshots are publicly accessible in Michigan. Hence, interested persons can obtain photographs from local and state law enforcement agencies. For instance, the public can search the Michigan Offender Search and Michigan Sex Offender Registry maintained by the Michigan Department of Corrections and Michigan State Police, respectively, to view mugshots. One can also contact or visit their local law enforcement agency for the record.