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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

   Question: What is the convicted offender database?

Answer: A databank of DNA profiles is being compiled of offenders in the state of Texas. This databank can be used to identify suspects in crimes where semen, blood, or other biological evidence is left by the perpetrator. Like fingerprints, body fluids left at a crime scene can positively identify assailants. By using the DNA databank, even criminal investigations with no suspects can be solved. The DNA database was mandated by House Bill 40, which went into effect September 1, 1995. The Program officially began on January 1, 1996, with the creation of the CODIS Section and the start of sample collections. The DPS CODIS program is part of the National CODIS Program.

   Question: How must an individual be trained before taking a buccal swab sample?

Answer: Initial training for the collection of DNA buccal swab samples will consist of the viewing of a DPS training video and/or review of instructions in collection kit. The DNA buccal swab database card contains a certification that the collector has been properly trained in DNA buccal swab sample collection procedures. When the collector signs the card, they are certifying that they have watched the training video and/or followed the instructions for the collection of the specimen.

   Question: Do eligible individuals for CODIS collection include juveniles?

Answer: Yes.

   Question: How does an agency handle an offender who refuses to give a buccal swab sample?

Answer: The law requires that eligible individuals give a sample. Each agency should develop a policy, in conjunction with their legal department, to determine to what extent the use of force should be employed as means of fulfilling their responsibility to enforce the law.

   Question: Can an employee of a county (e.g., a county nurse) take a DNA buccal swab for the police department or sheriff's office that has custody of an offender?

Answer: Yes. The arresting officer does not have to directly take a DNA buccal swab sample. They must, however, cause the sample to be taken. The person taking the sample must have an official association with the responsible agency. Therefore, the sample may not be taken by a trustee, probationer, or volunteer. Any individual taking a buccal sample must be properly trained to do so by, at a minimum, reading the collection instructions. The officer or a representative of his/her agency, who has responsibility for the offender, shall supervise the sample collection.

   Question: Does a chain of custody need to be followed to submit a sample?

Answer: A DNA database sample is not evidence. Therefore, the only chain of custody involved in taking a sample is that the individual taking the sample should open each kit one at a time and date and seal the kit before the next sample is opened. The kit is then simply put in the mail as soon as possible.

   Question: How can an agency find out if the DPS CODIS Lab has received a submitted sample or if an offender’s profile is in the CODIS database?

Answer: The agency may first check the offender’s computerized criminal history. A "Y" in the DNA field means that a sample has been received and accepted. While "N" means a sample has not been profiled, a sample may have still been received. You can make a request to the CODIS Lab for verification of receipt and/or completion of testing. The request must be made by a representative of a criminal justice agency and faxed to the DPS CODIS Lab (512- 424-2386) on the agency's letterhead. Please include the offender's name, SID number, and date of birth when making the request. The information requested will be faxed or emailed back to the agency

   Question: Who is included in the database?

Answer: An eligible individual is an individual who is:

  1. Confined in a penal institution operated by or under contract with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) or confined in an institution under the direction of TDCJ;
  2. A juvenile committed to the Texas Juvenile Justice Department (TJJD) or an institution under the direction of TJJD;
  3. An adult convicted of any felony (not to include deferred adjudications) on or after September 1, 2009 and granted probation or a juvenile placed on probation if the conduct constitutes a felony described by Section 54.0409 of the Family Code;
  4. Court ordered to provide a sample as a condition of probation (deferred adjudications & misdemeanors);
  5. Required to register as a sex offender;
  6. Convicted of one of the following, whether granted community supervision or not:
    1. Public lewdness;
    2. Indecent exposure;
    3. Terroristic Threat;
    4. Enticing a Child;
    5. Promotion of Prostitution; or
    6. Sale, Distribution, or Display of Harmful Material to a Minor.
      **For above offenses 3-6, collection is only required if the offense was committed after September 1, 2015.
  7. Court ordered to provide a sample as a condition of release on bail or bond for any offense;
  8. An individual who is:
    1. Arrested for one or more of the following felony offenses (after having been previously convicted of or placed on deferred adjudication for one or more of the offenses)
    2. Required to provide a sample as a condition of release on bail or bond for one of the following, or
    3. Indicted for one or more of the following (or charged by information after waving indictment):
      1. Aggravated kidnapping with intent to cause bodily injury or violate or abuse sexually
      2. Indecency with child
      3. Sexual Assault
      4. Aggravated sexual assault
      5. Prohibited sexual conduct or incest
      6. Burglary of a habitation WITC felony other than felony theft
      7. Compelling prostitution
      8. Sexual performance by child
      9. Possession or promotion of child pornography
      10. Continuous sexual abuse of a child
      11. Continuous trafficking of persons

The laws governing CODIS are found in Government Code Chapter 411, subchapter G (§411.141-§411.154). The rules governing CODIS are found in the Texas Administrative Code Title 37, Part 1, Chapter 28.

   Question: How can I get a case submitted to the CODIS program?

Answer: In order to get a case entered into CODIS, the evidence or data must be submitted to a CODIS participating laboratory. The DPS has nine regional crime labs who have CODIS capabilities (Austin, Corpus Christi, El Paso, Garland, Houston, Laredo, Lubbock, Waco, and Weslaco) and there are eight agencies outside DPS who have CODIS capabilities (Austin Police Department, Bexar County Criminal Investigations Laboratory, Fort Worth Police Department, Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences, Houston Forensic Science Center, Southwestern Institute of Forensic Sciences-Dallas, University North Texas Health Science Center-Fort Worth, and Tarrant County Medical Examiner's Office). Eligible DNA profiles analyzed by a CODIS participating laboratory are entered into the state and national databases.

   Question: How successful is the CODIS program?

   Question: What should the collection agency do with the sample after collection?

Answer: Follow the instructions provided in the kit in order to properly obtain the sample. Drop the postage-paid kit into the US mail as soon as possible. The samples do not need to be refrigerated if mailed on the same day. DO NOT freeze or subject the sample to excessive heat (as in the trunk of a car) under any circumstances.

   Question: What does the CODIS Laboratory do with the samples?

Answer: Our laboratory will analyze the sample to determine the subject's DNA profile. The DNA profile can only be used for law enforcement identification; it does not tell anything about the subject's physical traits or disease conditions. The DNA profile will be stored on our computers and compared to evidence in non-suspect cases. All information including the subject's personal information and the subject's DNA profile are kept confidential.

   Question: Can a CODIS profile be used for paternity comparisons?

Answer: No. State law prohibits the release of any DNA profiles. Please see Government Code §411.147 and §411.153.