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Criminal Charge Dismissed? What Happens to the Arrest Record?

By: Steven Tramontin

Many criminal cases are abandoned by the prosecution prior to trial. Charges are dismissed for many reasons – including exculpatory information provided through defense investigation, the suppression of necessary evidence due to constitutional violations, and recanting or uncooperative witnesses.  

Prior to June 12, 2018, however, a dismissal of charges still left a lingering stain on a person’s publicly-available record in the State of Michigan. In Michigan, if you are arrested or charged with a felony or certain misdemeanors your fingerprints and biometric information are entered into a system known as the Internet criminal history access tool (ICHAT). ICHAT aggregates criminal records and is used by employers and others to conduct background checks. 

The only way to remove your criminal record from ICHAT under the old law was if your case went to trial and you won. As a result, your arrest record stayed in the ICHAT system indefinitely even if your case was dismissed! This was damaging to a person’s chances of obtaining employment because a background check would reveal a criminal charge even if it didn’t result in a criminal conviction. Unlike jurors, prospective employers aren’t required to presume innocence.

Effective June 12th 2018, a new law in Michigan provides that an arrest record, biometric data and fingerprints may be removed from ICHAT if the charge is dismissed before trial. Rarely do state legislatures enact criminal-defense-friendly laws but, here, the Michigan legislature took a step toward a fair system; a step away from a system that has handcuffed people charged with a crime even after the charge was justifiably dismissed.

As with any new legislation, there may be different interpretation as the law is implemented. Now there’s an easier path to have your arrest record removed from ICHAT when a case is dismissed before trial. Depending on policies adopted by prosecutors and courts, this may or may not require action by defense counsel.  

We help our clients understand and navigate the criminal process. If you have been charged with a crime and need advice, reach out to our expert criminal defense attorney in Ann Arbor, Steven Tramontin. Call us at at 734-665-4441 or email Steven at 

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