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What is CLETS & How Does it Affect You? (2024 Update)

“CLETS” stands for California Law Enforcement Telecommunications System. It is a secure statewide computer network used by California law enforcement agencies to access criminal history records, DMV information, and other data for official use.
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C.L. Mike Schmidt Published by C.L. Mike Schmidt
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What is the Purpose of CLETS?

According to the US Legal, CLETS, operational since 1970, is a rapid message-switching system that grants law enforcement and criminal justice agencies access to diverse databases [1].

It enables the transmission and reception of point-to-point administrative messages within California or through the National Law Enforcement Telecommunications System (NLETS) to other states and Canada.

Intrastate broadcast messages can be sent to participating agencies via the Group Bulletin Network and to regions nationwide via NLETS. CLETS interfaces directly with the FBI-NCIC, NLETS, DMV, Oregon, and Nevada. The state supplies the computer hardware, switching center personnel, administrative personnel, and circuitry to one point in each county.

Local agencies provide the circuitry and equipment linking them to their county termination point. Several agencies have message-switching computer (MSC) systems and computer-aided dispatch (CAD) systems that connect directly to CLETS. Many of these systems feature mobile data terminals (MDTs) allowing officers in the field to make inquiries directly into various systems.

What Databases are Accessible Within CLETS?

According to the EG Group, authorized users can utilize CLETS to access a variety of state, FBI, and independent databases, including [2]:

  • National Crime Information Center (NCIC): Managed by the FBI, the NCIC database contains nationwide records on stolen property, missing persons, wanted persons, and protective orders, among others.
  • International Justice and Public Safety Network (Nlets): This network enables local, state, and federal criminal justice agencies to exchange records and data with other agencies in the United States and internationally.
  • Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS): CJIS is a national network of databases that includes criminal history records, fingerprints, and biometric data.
  • California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV): The DMV provides vehicle registration, driver’s license information, and accident reports to authorized CLETS users.

Additionally, CLETS grants immediate access to Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) within the state. This includes comprehensive details on individuals within the California criminal justice system, such as:

  • Arrest records
  • Criminal charges
  • Pretrial proceedings
  • Sentencing
  • Incarceration
  • Parole and probation information
  • Rehabilitation programs
  • Social security information
  • Date of birth

Who has Access to CLETS?

According to the SCLG, access to CLETS terminals or information is restricted to authorized law enforcement and criminal justice personnel, or their duly authorized representatives [3].

All information obtained from CLETS is considered confidential and is intended for official use exclusively. Individuals receiving CLETS information must have both the right and the necessity to know the information – SCLG Stated.

Before operating CLETS equipment or accessing the system, personnel must pass a background check and provide fingerprints. Additionally, individuals accessing CLETS must undergo system training within six months of their employment or assignment.

Misuse of CLETS

Given the extensive data stored in CLETS, access to certain information is limited to specific circumstances. Misuse of CLETS can include:

  • Using the system for personal purposes rather than official duties.
  • Searching for information on high-profile individuals such as celebrities or government officials.
  • Attempting to access information on family or friends without proper authorization.

Abuse of CLETS is in violation of Penal Codes 11141-11143 and Penal Codes 13302-13304; making it a crime to misuse state and local summary criminal history. Felony penalties may be charged under Government Code 6200. Misuse of CLETS will result in an investigation by the DOJ and a review by the California Attorney General.

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If you feel affected by any of these matters, you should contact a criminal defense attorney and seek help.

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If you or a loved one was involved with these matters, you should contact our law firm immediately for a free case evaluation. You may be entitled to a settlement by filing a suit and we can help.



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