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Michigan Public Records

The Michigan Freedom of Information Act, Public Act No. 442 of 1976, establishes procedures to ensure right of access to government documents for all citizens. These documents are considered public records, which are writings (or recordings) prepared by a public body.

Exceptions to this Act include: information about the private affairs of individuals; records that could compromise open investigations or the correctional system; trade secrets; test questions; medical files; and information subject to attorney-client privilege.

Useful statewide databases appear on this page.  Use the menu to the left to search by type (category) of record, search licenses, or access records in cities and counties.

  • Court System - The Michigan court system has 4 levels. At the first are the District Courts and Probate Courts. The former are responsible for civil cases of $25K or less, traffic violations, misdemeanors, and preliminary hearings for felonies. The latter handles wills, estates, and protection of incompetent persons. At the second level are the Circuit Courts and the Court of Claims. The former handles felonies, civil cases over $25K, family law cases, and some appeals from lower courts. The latter handles civil suits against the State, and disputes between citizens and administrative agencies. At the third level is the Court of Appeals, which reviews decisions from the lower courts. At the top level is the Supreme Court, which reviews decisions from the Appeals court and lower courts.  Michigan Court Records
  • Criminal Records - Misdemeanors and traffic violations are handled by the District Court. Felonies are handled by the Circuit Court.  For database access and information on ordering official state background checks, go to our Michigan Criminal Records page.
  • Vital Records – Certificate copies are provided by: Vital Records Requests, 201 Townsend Street, Capitol View Building, 3rd Floor, Lansing, MI 48913, (517) 335-8666. Check our Vital Records page for historical and current birth databases; the Social Security Death Index for Michigan, statewide historical deaths, and death notices, cemetery records, and obituaries from available cities & counties; historical marriage databases, and marriages from available counties; and links to divorce court records in available counties.

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