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Deleting public records implies removing certain information from public scrutiny. Michigan public records are generally impossible to erase except it is endorsed by an approved Retention and Disposal Schedule. Michiganâ€™s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) grants any interested person the statutory right to access public records. Nevertheless, individuals seeking to hide their public records may obtain a court order to take them off public scrutiny. They may also file petitions for set-aside orders, especially for cases of criminal records. Although barred from public disclosure, law enforcement and court officials are legally permitted to view such records.
In Michigan, people seek to conceal their public records for various reasons. These include:
- Avoiding identity theft
- Avoiding domestic violence or stalking
- Removing information that constitutes a risk to public safety
- Removing incorrect information from a criminal record
- Obtaining a professional license
- Receiving financial aid
- Avoiding being targeted for spams
What is a Public Record in Michigan?
Michigan State law defines a public record as any information prepared or used by a public body while performing its official function. It refers to all records owned or retained by the public body, including all computer-stored data. The information could be handwritten, typewritten, or printed, including those produced via other means like photographing and photocopying. Michigan public records have a variety of physical forms such as:
- Magnetic or paper tapes
- Photographic films or prints
- Magnetic or punched cards
Public records generally contain non-confidential information regarding public affairs in the state. Interested individuals can access these records via written requests. Michigan public records are, however, restricted from persons incarcerated in federal, state, or local correctional facilities. The state public record law describes public bodies in Michigan as persons or institutions involved in governing the Michigan public. Some of them include:
- A person such as a state officer or employee, excluding the governor or lieutenant governor, as well as their employees
- Any agency, division, bureau, board, commission, council, or authority in the state government executive branch. This excludes the executive office of the governor or lieutenant governor
- Any agency, commission, board, or council in the legislative arm of the state government
- Any other agency that is created or majorly funded by state or local authority. This does not include the judiciary and the office of the county clerk
By making information available to the public, the Michigan State government supports openness and transparency in its administration. It also provides proof of executed government projects and the opportunity for members of the public to give vital feedback required for proper governance. The stateâ€™s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) of 1976 mandates the provision of and access to public records to encourage the general public full participation in the democratic process.
However, instances exist where certain individuals may want to remove their records from public access either by sealing or expungement. A person with a criminal record is a common example. Such an individual may find it hard to gain employment and access opportunities in housing and education.
Does Michigan allow Expungement?
Expungement in the State of Michigan refers to setting aside a record. It is the removal of a conviction record from a personâ€™s criminal history. Individuals who desire to conceal their criminal records can file an Application to Set Aside Conviction with the court. The Michigan State Police (MSP) and the state court system are, however, permitted to maintain conviction records that have been set aside. Note that only criminal records can be set aside, and individuals seeking to do so must be eligible. Criminal records that have been set aside are treated like they never existed.
How do I Expunge My Criminal Record in Michigan?
To expunge a criminal record in Michigan, an offender is required to file an Application to Set Aside Conviction or Application to Set Aside Adjudication. The petition must be filed in the court where the case was heard. However, such a person must first determine their eligibility for setting aside convictions or juvenile adjudications. To qualify for a Michigan criminal record expungement, an offender must:
- Have only one adult conviction or juvenile adjudication
- Have only one felony conviction or two misdemeanor convictions
- Have no prior conviction for a traffic offense, sexual felony, or life-sentence offense.
- Wait for five years from the date of the sentence or the adjudication to be set aside
A five-year waiting period must have also passed from the date of discharge from parole, release from prison, or completion of probation, whichever is most recent. There must be no new criminal charges or convictions during this waiting period. For a denied petition, three years must elapse before an offender can file another petition for the same conviction. The only exception occurs when the court schedules an earlier date for filing a new petition in the order denying the initial application.
After confirming their eligibility, petitioners should complete their applications and pay the required fee to get their fingerprints taken at any local law enforcement agency. They can also obtain a record of their conviction from the clerk of the convicting court. Alternatively, a petitioner may download a copy of their criminal history (conviction record) using Michiganâ€™s Internet Criminal History Access Tool (ICHAT) for a fee. The application should be duly notarized and enclosed with a copy of the petitionerâ€™s valid government-issued photo identity and payment proof of the required fees.
Completed applications may be filed with the convicting court by mail or in person. The petitioner must also mail copies of their application to the MSP, the Michigan Attorney General (MAG), and the prosecutorâ€™s office that tried the case. The addresses listed for the MSP and MAG are:
Michigan State Police
Criminal Justice Information Center
7150 Harris Drive
Lansing, MI 48913
Attorney Generalâ€™s Office
P.O. Box 30218
East Lansing, MI 48823
The petitioner can learn the address of their prosecutorâ€™s office by asking the clerk of the convicting court or checking their record of conviction. They can also use the Michigan directory of prosecutors to identify their office address.
If at hearing the judge approves their application, the petitioner should notify the MSP of the development. The petitioner must also verify with the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) that such a record has been expunged. However, for the MDOC to expunge a record, it must first receive a true copy of the expungement directly from the presiding court.
Will my Expungement Record Show up on a Background Check in Michigan?
No. In Michigan, expunged records do not show up on background checks conducted by potential employers or landlords. However, to avoid financial penalties, employers must not conduct non-FCRA compliant background checks. Set-aside convictions are viewed as if they never occurred, although they can still be considered in future sentencing. In Michigan, expunged records are statutorily removed from the public domain.
How to Seal a Record in Michigan
Per Michigan state law, set-aside conviction records are automatically sealed by order of the presiding court. This also applies to Michigan arrest record sealing. An offender is not required to file a separate petition with the court for their set-aside records to be sealed. Under Michigan Court Rules (MCR) 8.119(1), conviction records that have been set aside must also be restricted from public disclosure. However, Â authorized entities or persons can still access sealed records in Michigan.
Non-criminal records can also be sealed in Michigan. Interested persons can petition a court of competent jurisdiction to seal their records stating the interests they wish to protect. Before granting the petition, the court will confirm that the reasons presented are substantial that no easier means exist to protect such interests.
Who Can See My Sealed Record in Michigan?
Generally, a sealed record remains visible to its subject and any other authorized designate. Both the record owner and the authorized designee must provide valid proof of identification. An authorized designee must provide evidence of authorization. In Michigan, however, only the MSP, law enforcement, and the courts can see sealed records.
How to Delete Bankruptcy Records in Michigan
Bankruptcy records are relatively hard to delete in Michigan, especially since no credit reporting laws exist in the state. The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) regulates credit reporting agencies in the state. It oversees how credit reports are used and disseminated.
In Michigan, bankruptcy records are typically deleted from a personâ€™s public record after some years, depending on the chapter on which it was declared. Chapter 7 bankruptcy, also called liquidation, is deleted ten years from the date of filing. It involves the sales of some of a debtorâ€™s property to settle their debt. In contrast, Chapter 13 bankruptcy stays on an individualâ€™s credit report for seven years from the date of filing. Also known as reorganization, it typically requires that part or all of the debts be repaid within three to five years. However, the debtor is not required to sell any of his property to make the mandatory monthly payments.
What Are Consumer Protection Laws in Michigan?
The Michigan Consumer Protection Act of 1976 helps consumers, prosecutors, and the State Attorney General to deal with deceptive practices. This statute prohibits fraudulent and unfair trade practices and empowers county prosecutors and state attorneys to enforce penalties against violators. Consumers who have been victims of fraudulent business practices can seek legal redress. The Act also forbids numerous devious commercial practices, some of which include:
- Presenting goods as new when they are spoiled, altered, used, or refurbished
- Talking about a needless repair service or part replacement
- Misrepresenting facts or using false information to disparage the goods, services, or reputation of another business
Other consumer protection laws that offer significant benefits to consumers in Michigan are:
- Section 37.2205a(1) of MCL 453, which regulates employersâ€™ use of background checks. It prevents employers from using misdemeanor arrest records to disqualify potential employees if no convictions resulted from them.
- MCL 445.1822 (Credit Services Organizations Act), which regulates credit repair agencies within the state and checks deceptive practices targeted at consumers.
Michigan State also has some privacy laws that guarantee the protection of consumer privacy rights and interests. They are designed to ensure that the personal identifying information of the state residents is safeguarded. These laws mandate businesses and other commercial entities within the state to report consumer data breaches without delay. They also specify penalties for mandated-time frame violations for reporting data breaches and notifying consumers. Some Â Michigan Privacy protection laws are:
- Identity Theft Protection (MCL Â§ 445.61 - 445.79d)
- Medical Records Access Act (MCL Â§Â§ 333.26261 â€“ 333.26271)
- Protection of Pupil Privacy (MCL Â§ 380.1136)
- Insurance Code; Privacy of Financial Information (MCL Â§Â§ 500.501 â€“ 500.547) and Data Security (MCL Â§Â§ 500.550 â€“ 500.565)
How to Delete Lien Records in Michigan
In Michigan, a lien record can be deleted from a personâ€™s public record when it is released. A lien is released when the underlying debt on which the lien is filed has been fully paid off. Also, a lien record can be deleted at expiration. Michigan law provides for the removal of a lien record from an individualâ€™s record after a reasonable number of years. While a Michigan tax lien can remain as a part of an individualâ€™s history for seven years, a judgment lien expires after five years.
Interested persons can use the Michigan Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) Online Service to search for existing liens in Michigan. Â This service is available to UCC account holders and credit and debit card users. Interested individuals may also search by sending their requests via regular mail, expedited mail, or in person using a completed UCC11 Information Request form. They are also required to include a check or money order of $6 payable to the State of Michigan for mail or expedited mail requests. Note that expedited mail requests attract an additional processing charge of $25 per search, and the requests are usually processed on the same day. Standard mail requests, on the other hand, are processed within three to seven business days and should be submitted to: Â
Michigan Department of State
Uniform Commercial Code Section
P.O. Box 30197
Lansing, MI 48909-7697
In-person or Express Mail search requests can be submitted to:
Michigan Department of State
Uniform Commercial Code Section
7064 Crowner Drive
Dimondale, MI 48821
Requesters must pay extra fees if the costs of compiling search requests exceed $6. Each copy of a retrieved lien record costs $2. Requesters can also visit their County Register of Deeds Offices and the Ingham County Register of Deeds (for out-of-state liens) Â for an in-person and mail-in search of lien records.
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