Michigan's Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), MCL 15.231 et seq, is the law governing public records for the state. The Attorney General's Office has information about the law and how it works. Each government body has records, and the public may request access, but the government agency can charge a fee for copies. You can request records directly from the Attorney General's Office, but in many cases, you will need to contact the agency directly. Each custodian of records has its own process for handling records requests.
Michigan public records are created by all local and state government agencies, law enforcement, the courts, lawyers, and sometimes even individuals. Each agency creates, collects, stores, and shares these records with the public. However, fees do apply, and you may have to fill out special forms. Some agencies keep their files stored online for easy access. Not all things will be available, though.
Michigan's Freedom of Information Act states "It is the public policy of this state that all persons, except those persons incarcerated in state or local correctional facilities, are entitled to full and complete information regarding the affairs of government and the official acts of those who represent them as public officials and public employees, consistent with this act. The people shall be informed so that they may fully participate in the democratic process."
The Attorney General's Office can provide guidance with Michigan's Freedom of Information Act, but there is no central agency that governs these laws and enforces them. If, however, someone requests records and cannot gain access, the Attorney General's Office can help.
The Michigan History Center is the agency in charge of keeping and storing all historical public records. Their mission is labeled as "The Archives of Michigan is responsible for preserving the records of Michigan government and other public institutions. The collections also include documents, maps, photographs, and film from private individuals and organizations."
The process for requesting records in Michigan will be different based on the government agency you contact. Each entity has its own process and charges different fees. However, you can find a sample request letter online and use that to request records. Be as specific as possible when making requests. The basic process will include:
If you are denied access to records, the Attorney General's Office can help you appeal the decision.
The Michigan State Police handle criminal records requests for the state. Per the Michigan Freedom of Information Act., Michigan has set up an online tool so the general public can access criminal histories easily. They call the system the Internet Criminal History Access Tool (ICHAT). You can also purchase traffic reports through them and request other types of public records through their MSP Records Request Portal. They also have a phone number to call and email address for any questions you might have.
Some common types of criminal records in Michigan include (but are not limited to):
Court records in Michigan are created, maintained, and stored by the Michigan Courts. They offer the general public a search tool which you can use to find documents and court cases easily. They also have a search area specifically for attorneys. When searching, you can enter the person's name or an attorney's name. You can also visit each local courthouse in person to obtain records. They have a specific process for requesting them, and you may be able to get copies while you wait, or they may need to be mailed to you if the request is hard to locate.
Some types of court records in Michigan are:
The Michigan court system consists of four levels starting with the Supreme Court, then the Court of Appeals, Court of Claims and Circuit Court, and then District, Probate, and Municipal Courts.
State and local police create, store, and share Michigan arrest records. For new arrests, visit the local police station to obtain information. Some may not be available, but general police reports should be, along with the name of the suspect and other information about them. You can also use the State Police criminal history portal to search for arrest records of convicted criminals in the state. Another option is to search the Michigan Department of Corrections for convicted felons and the court records to find related arrest information.
Some different types of arrests records in Michigan are:
is the government agency in charge of all vital records for the state. They keep track of all birth, death, marriage, and divorce certificates, and you can request copies. You can also order Heirloom Birth Certificates for an extra fee as a keepsake. This office also handles a lot of other things like licensing, healthcare providers referrals, forms, and state health statistics. You may order records online, through the mail or via the new email option. Michigan uses the VitalChek system for online ordering, and other fees may apply.
Along with criminal, court, arrest, and vital records, property records in Michigan are also public. Here are the others:
Michigan law states that "Public record" means a writing prepared, owned, used, in possession of, or retained by a public body in the performance of an official function, from the time it is created." However, some items are unavailable to public records such as:
This list is just a small sampling. The actual law includes many more exclusions.