A person who believes they have an outstanding warrant should have the ability to verify this information so that they can act swiftly to resolve it. Michigan's Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) allows the public to search the state's database of current criminal and civil cases to learn if they have a warrant in their name.
Individuals can also contact their county court by phone or in person, or attempt to search third-party sites, which may have a small fee attached. In each instance, the person searching will have to yield specific information about themselves to find a warrant, such as their name, address, case number and date of the warrant's issuance. A warrant in the state of Michigan will not expire, even if several years have lapsed.
Michigan Arrest Warrants
A warrant allows an individual, agency or official – typically a magistrate or a judge – to authorize a specific action to enforce law and order. In Michigan, law enforcement agencies and other government agencies must give the court sufficient reasons to obtain a warrant.
Warrants do not expire or go away unless their execution has taken place or the court cancels them. They stay active until an arrest, the person named in the warrant turns themselves in, or a search takes place. If the court finds sufficient grounds to void or retract a warrant, it becomes immediately unenforceable.
Types of Warrants
Warrants have different purposes, and there are several types in Michigan, including:
- Search warrant: Allows for the search and seizure of property of interest by law enforcement during an investigation.
- Arrest warrant: A judge or magistrate will issue an arrest warrant in a criminal case, allowing peace officers to apprehend and detain the individual named in the warrant.
- Bench warrant: Used in misdemeanor or civil cases, such as debt settlements or traffic violations. The court will issue a bench warrant in the event that an individual misses a court date during an ongoing case. While law enforcement officers don't actively pursue a person named in a bench warrant, they will arrest that person on sight if they stop the individual for another reason.
- Tax warrant: Michigan's Department of Treasury issues tax warrants to seal a business location or to seize and sell properties to pay a business or individual's unpaid taxes.
Conducting a Michigan Warrant Search
Michigan citizens have a few ways to find out if they have a warrant in their name, which can allow them to resolve it and avoid penalties. They have the option of looking online, by phone or in person. The state Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) allows the public – with the exception of incarcerated individuals – to access public records of public bodies.
An online search is the easiest way to find a warrant, and most government offices have this option. One way to do this is by using the MSP Records Request Portal, where searchers create an account through "MILogin" to search its database for their own information.
They also have the option of searching the public records of the county court's website in their area. In both instances, the person searching for a warrant will provide their personal information, including their name or court case number.
Contact the District Court by Phone or in Person
An individual can also call or visit the court in their area if they believe they have a warrant. The court's phone number is usually in the contact section of a court's official website. When calling, the person searching for their warrant gives the court clerk their name, case number and other pertinent information, such as date of birth and date of the warrant's issuance.
They also have the option of visiting the court and requesting a warrant search. The court may charge a fee for a court records request – payment methods and amounts differ between counties. However, an in-person warrant search may also result in an on-the-spot arrest.
Third-Party Sites for Finding Warrant Records
A individual can also try to conduct a search through a third-party website. They may have to provide personal information as well as details regarding the warrant, including its date of issuance, when attempting a search. Third-party websites are usually a mix of public records databases, allowing users to search through a state's court, police and county records.
Third-party sites may seem like they offer easy access and yield accurate results, but that's not always the case. They are often not as current as a government-run database or source, and a small fee may be required.
Hiring an Attorney to Search for Warrant
Many individuals hire attorneys to find out if they have a warrant. Attorneys will also guide them on how to protect themselves in the event that they do. An attorney can help individuals make arrangements with law enforcement to turn themselves in at a time of their choosing so police officers won't come to their residence or job to take them into custody.
Law enforcement does not ignore active warrants. While the statute of limitations for most Michigan crimes is between six to 10 years, there is no statute of limitations for warrants – they do not expire, even if 10 to 20 years have passed.
Michelle Nati is an associate editor and writer who has reported on legal, criminal and government news for PasadenaNow.com and Complex Media. She holds a B.A. in Communications and English from Niagara University.