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The Alabama Attorney General’s Office presented the case to the Lawrence grand jury.
The sheriff said he could not comment on Knighten’s case, which he said the Alabama Bureau of Investigation and ACJIS jointly investigated.
Morgan County Sheriff Ana Franklin said her department uses LETS and NCIC, but there has been no misuse.
“No one has been dismissed under my watch for that,” said Franklin. “A state agency comes in every year, and we have to produce records as to why we ran someone’s name through for a background check.”
Franklin said the department conducts checks for various reasons, including investigations and pistol permits.
“It has different queries, and everybody has to go through classes to be able to access the system,” Franklin said. “There’s a limit on what can be looked up based on what it is. Like for a license check, you cannot run a full background check on someone.”
She said officers cannot use the system to do background checks for businesses or private citizens.
District Attorney Scott Anderson’s office has access to the two systems, also, but only three of his employees are authorized to use them.
“We use it to look at people’s background for habitual offender purposes,” Anderson said. “We also use it to check out people we might be looking to extradite.”
Anderson said the usage of both systems is monitored.
“We have to have a log of all the searches, and a gentleman will come by periodically to check to make sure it’s used properly,” Anderson said. “No one has violated the systems since I’ve been here, and I don’t know of any past occurrences.”
Data in NCIC is provided by the FBI, federal, state, local and foreign criminal justice agencies, and authorized court systems.
Knighten resigned as chief deputy after his arrest Friday. He remains free on $10,000 bail. He had been on paid leave since July 25 after allegations about the alleged misuse of the state database.
The next step in Knighten’s case is an arraignment hearing for him to face the charges, but it is unknown whether the proceeding has been scheduled.
The felony charges carry a penalty up to five years in prison and a fine ranging from $5,000 to $10,000.
Knighten has denied the allegations through his attorney.
Knighten had been chief deputy for six years, and prior to going to the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department, he worked for Town Creek Police Department for 16 years, where he was chief for six years.