Background Information Regarding Court Records
Most criminal convictions and criminal court records are public records, with a few exceptions. For example, if your case was disposed of under the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act under MCL 762.11, et. seq., (commonly referred to as “HYTA” or “TYA”), your court file and records would not be public records. By law, all proceedings regarding the disposition of the criminal charge and an individual’s assignment as youthful trainee under the HYTA shall be closed to public inspection, unless a court terminates or revokes an individual’s status as a youthful trainee and enters a judgment of conviction against the individual. MCL 762.14(4).
Also, juvenile adjudications are not considered criminal convictions. MCL 712A.1(2). In juvenile court, certain records are considered non-public or confidential. These records include, but are not limited to: the diversion record of a minor pursuant to the Juvenile Diversion Act, MCL 722.821, et. seq.; dispositional reports; or the contents of a social file maintained by the court. MCR 3.903(A)(3). However, if you were a juvenile, but tried as an adult, your case would have resulted in a conviction.
Even if your case is a confidential record, as a party, you should be entitled to access to the file and court records. However, keep in mind that in some instances, a court may destroy certain files and records under Michigan law and court rules. See MCL 399.5; MCL 750.491; MCR 8.119(K); MCR 3.925.
If You Know the Court Where You Were Convicted
- Check Online. Some Courts offer online record searches and access to order records, so you may first want to check to see if you can access any records online at the Court’s website. For example, the Oakland County 6th Circuit Court offers the ability to search court cases and order documents online through their Court Explorer system, which can be accessed here.
- Call the Court. Contact the Clerk’s Office of that Court regarding your record or court file and ask what is their procedure for requesting court records.
- In Person. If records are not available by the Court online, you can also visit the Clerk’s Office in person to obtain copies of court documents.
When You Are Unsure Which Court
- Search your criminal record. For information about obtaining your criminal record, click here.
What to Order
Documents that are generally kept as part of the court file include, but are not limited to:
- Copies of of the Charging Documents (i.e. the Complaint and Information)
- Pleadings (i.e. Motions and Briefs)
- Written Opinions and Orders
- Advice of Rights Forms
- Plea Forms (if applicable)
- Waiver Forms (i.e. Waivers of Arraignment)
- Judgments of Sentence
- Orders of Probation
- Transcripts (if prepared)
Generally, transcripts of court proceedings are not prepared unless a request is made for preparation of a transcript. If you would like a transcript of a court proceeding that is not part of the court file and has not already been transcribed, you can contact the Court to find out the procedure for requesting preparation of a transcript. The process of requesting preparation of a transcript can vary from court to court as Michigan courts have varying technologies. For example, some courts maintain live court reporters in courtrooms, while others maintain video recordings of the proceedings.
You may also request a copy of the “Register of Actions” or “Docket Sheet” from the Clerk’s Office. This document will include the information regarding your case including the charges and all of the court proceedings and events.
If you need to obtain your court file, our office can assist you in this procedure. We help many clients seek removal from the sex offender registry and expungements of their convictions. Please call our office for more information.