This comprehensive guide on background checks in Michigan will give you all the answers you need. It covers the laws, costs, and necessary details to obtain an accurate background check in Michigan.
Michigan Background Check Laws
In Michigan, employers are not allowed to ask for nor keep any information on a potential employee’s detentions, misdemeanor arrests, or any dispositions that did not actually result in a conviction.
However, if a felony charge has not yet been determined of a conviction or dismissal, then the reporting credit agencies can reveal that on a background check report. You do not need to reside in Michigan to gain access to public records.
If your request for public records is denied, you will need to take the matter to court since Michigan does not allow any administrative appeals.
Michigan state laws (MI Comp. Laws § 37.2205a) prohibit an employer from asking a potential employee about any misdemeanors, detentions, or dispositions that did not result in a conviction.
Furthermore, all applicants are allowed to legally withhold details about such arrests during an employment application process. However, felony charges that are awaiting a dismissal or conviction are excluded and must be revealed to the potential employer at the time of application.
Applicants in Michigan are protected from disclosing any minor misdemeanors or arrests that did result in any convictions. Employers can only inquire about criminal convictions and pending felony charges at the time of application.
Sealed or Expunged Records
These can still appear on some criminal background checks. However, a person can lawfully withhold full disclosure of any sealed or expunged record. Any juvenile sentenced under the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act or sent to a juvenile diversion program normally remains as sealed records.
An ICAT search will not be able to locate any federal records, juvenile records, traffic, or tribal records due to the restrictions in place in Michigan.
How to Get a Background Check in Michigan
Getting a background check in Michigan can be done via some online sources; however, depending on the public records needed, you may have to go through a specific agency making a formal request.
If you have to make a formal request, you will be able to do so by either calling, emailing, or sending your formal request via regular mail. The rules will vary depending on the department involved, so you will need to be patient if contacting various departments.
Public records requests should typically include:
- Name and contact details of the person being searched, including phone numbers (home and work), last known mailing address, and email address.
- The document(s) you are requesting and the specific details you are looking to obtain.
- A suggested time frame for when you need all the documents requested.
- Give the details of how you want the documents delivered to you, i.e., mail, email, etc.
If you want to go in person to the location to obtain your results, then we suggest calling first and making an appointment if possible. You can also make an online request.
Note: Michigan does not have any specific laws about how long an agency can take to respond to public records requests. However, it is stated that an agency should respond promptly within a week.
Michigan Criminal Records
Michigan strictly enforces the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA); therefore, obtaining criminal records is quite easy. Any illegal activities committed by an individual within Michigan are stored electronically and can be printed or stored for easy access.
The FOIA was created to protect both job candidates and employers. Allowing an employer to access criminal records is vital to protecting their business and or reputation. This has set a standard for all hiring policies throughout the entire United States.
Fair Hiring and Ban-the-Box Laws
Unfortunately, Michigan does not have a statewide ban-the-box or any fair hiring laws in place at the current moment. However, Detroit is the only municipality in Michigan that is considered a ban-the-box district.
What Shows Up on a Michigan Background Check?
Any interactions with law enforcement in Michigan can be recorded and made public. These types of records come from a variety of different sources and will include all arrest records, incarcerations, and convictions.
However, background checks for employment within the State of Michigan can only be done as a name-based search for most types of employers. There are some boards or agencies that will require an applicant to undergo a fingerprint background check.
Any employer in Michigan is not allowed to ask an applicant about any misdemeanor arrests. Furthermore, a Michigan background check will not even include any misdemeanor arrests. But it will consist of any and all convictions for both misdemeanors and felonies.
Background checks for employment typically include:
- Previous Job History
- Education Verification
- Credit History
- Criminal Records – Including Types of Offenses
- Driving Records (Depending on the type of occupation applied for)
Criminal records normally include the following:
- Personal details, including full name, date of birth, nationality, marital status, etc.
- Maiden names and alias’
- Full set of fingerprints and mug shot
- Any distinguishing marks or features, such as scars, notable physical attributes, or tattoos
- Description of crime committed and the type of offense charged (felony, misdemeanor, sex crimes, etc.)
- Federal and State tax liens and civil judgments
- Incarceration Records
Employers in Michigan must comply with all laws established regarding driving records and criminal background checks. Name-based background checks usually provide information about an individual but are limited to certain data.
Employers located in the City of Detroit
Any public employer or public contractor located in the City of Detroit is strictly prohibited from looking into or even considering a criminal conviction during the employment process until after the applicant has been chosen for an interview (Detroit Municipal Code §§ 13-1-11, 12, 13).
The only employers that can be exempt from this municipal code (law) must be hiring for a position where other states or federal laws require them to do a criminal background check.
Although it’s currently not illegal for an employer to inquire about a potential employee’s credit history while making an employment decision in Michigan, multiple proposed legislation to ban these types of inquiries has been brought before the state legislature and could one day be passed.
How Far Back do Background Checks Go in Michigan?
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) has a rule in place that any conviction can show up in a background check indefinitely. There is no time limit for convictions to be removed from any background check unless the court has ordered it to be expunged or sealed.
However, Michigan is one of the few states that forbid reporting any cases where the final verdict resulted in ‘not guilty.’ They are also not listed as a state with a stringent law on how many years a credit reporting agency will go back with felony charges.
Michigan does not follow the seven-year rule for prospective employers searching a candidate’s criminal records. This means that the employer in question could, in fact, pull criminal records from an extended time period.
As far as financials go, any negative financial information that is correct will remain on your background check for seven years. However, bankruptcies will remain visible for up to ten years.
Note: A felony conviction can always stay on your record unless you were able to get it expunged.
How Long Does a Background Check Take in Michigan?
Background checks vary and aren’t considered uniform among all companies. Some businesses require an in-depth look into a potential employee’s past, especially when being considered for management or a position involving handling the business’s finances.
Other companies only require a brief background check that can be performed in a relatively small amount of time, such as one to three days to receive the results. However, if references and past job histories need to be verified, it can take longer.
If applying for a commercial driver’s license to work as a commercial driver, then depending on the type of background check being performed, the amount of time it takes will vary. Normally, a criminal background investigation needs to take place on all commercial drivers.
For instance, if an investigation needs to be done on an applicant’s past, it can take less than thirty days to complete or more than sixty days depending on the inquiry’s depth, according to the Michigan Department of State.
If you wish to run a background check on yourself or somebody else that is basic, you can use an online service and expect to get the results within as little as a few hours or up to one week.
Note: If an employer wants to investigate your credit history, you have rights, and that employer must provide you with written notice. However, that employer can use whatever information it finds not to hire you as long as it is not based on country of origin, religion, or race.
Why Do Employers Run Background Checks in Michigan?
Just like any state, most employers want to protect their business and assets. One of the best ways to do this is by running background checks on potential employees. Many companies have a standard procedure for employment screening set in place, which includes performing a background check.
Any position with more responsibility or will involve handling a company’s finances is ordinarily subject to background check requirements. This is usually mandatory for management positions and or ‘key’ holders.
Extensive background checks usually are performed on individuals who are applying for positions in the caregiving sector. This includes but is not limited to:
- Education Field – Teachers, Professors, Counselors, Etc.
- Medical Field – Nurses, Nursing Aids, Nursing Home Caregivers, Etc.
- Childcare or Elderly Care
These types of background checks can include checking the applicant’s background, credit history, criminal record, verifying education and driving records. Employers need to be extra cautious when hiring for a field that works with children, seniors, or individuals with disabilities.
Can You Get a Free Background Check in Michigan?
You can not obtain an official background check in Michigan for free. The Michigan State Police will provide you a name-based background search online for $10 using the Internet Criminal History Access Tool (ICHAT).
However, you can access the public records of individuals through available court records on any Michigan resident.
Michigan State Courts are primarily responsible for retaining certain court records and making them available to the public. The courts do allow free online searches of any closed or current cases in all Michigan courts.
Both criminal and civil charges, as well as family court actions, including divorces and custody hearings, can be found. These records normally indicate how the court processed the case and any final dispositions.
Note: If you want to view the file itself, you will have to visit the relevant court that holds the record(s).
How Long Does a Background Check Take for a Gun in Michigan?
There are no laws in Michigan that impose a waiting period prior to the sale of a firearm. But, you do have to pass a background check before the dealer can transfer the gun over to you, which should be completed within three business days.
Since Michigan is considered a ‘partial’ point-of-contact state for the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), any background checks requested by a licensed dealer must be processed through the FBI.
If the FBI cannot provide the results from your background check within the three business days that are legally set forth, then the firearms dealer can complete the transfer on the fourth business day by default.
However, suppose the seller of any firearm is not considered to be a federally licensed dealer. In that case, Michigan law requires the purchaser to have either a license to carry a concealed weapon or a valid handgun purchase license.
Each type of firearm license requires a background check through the Michigan Department of State Police. Once a concealed carry license is granted, the licensed individual only needs to submit to another background check every five years for renewal of the said license.
In 2015, Michigan enacted a law that requires concealed firearm licensing authorities to conduct mandatory background checks through the FBI’s NICS database and the state’s law enforcement information network.
However, federal law does not require firearm dealers to conduct any background checks if a firearm purchaser can present a state permit to possess or purchase firearms that meet specific conditions.
This means that Michigan firearm purchase license holders are, in fact, exempt from the mandatory federal background check requirements. Also, long gun transfers by a private seller (not a licensed firearm dealer) are not subject to any background checks in Michigan.