Texas DPS is charged with the task of implementing the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) in the state of Texas. The DNA Database was created on September 1, 1995, by Government Code §411.142.
The principal purpose of this system is to assist federal, state, or local criminal justice or law enforcement agencies in the investigation or prosecution of sex-related offenses, or other offenses in which biological evidence is recovered. The database may also assist in:
- The recovery or identification of human remains from a disaster or for humanitarian purposes.
- The identification of living or deceased missing persons.
- Identification research and protocol development.
- DNA laboratory quality control.
The State CODIS Program is responsible for recording DNA data, and establishing and maintaining a computerized database that serves as the state's central depository for DNA records. The State DNA Database, consisting of several authorized categories of DNA records, is housed and maintained by the State CODIS Laboratory at the Department of Public Safety Crime Laboratory in Austin.
DNA profiles can be entered into the state database in two ways:
- Biological samples can be typed by the State CODIS Lab.
- DNA profiles can be uploaded from local CODIS labs.
Arrestee DNA Collection in Texas
Effective September 1, 2019, HB 1399 was a significant expansion of the arrestee laws in Texas. The law requires DNA collection when an adult is arrested for any of twenty four listed felony offenses, regardless of any previous convictions; this list of qualifying offenses is slightly different than the previous list of arrestee offenses. Prior to this legislation, the Texas arrestee law required that the individual had a previous conviction or placed on deferred adjudication for one of the qualifying arrestee offenses.
Qualifying felony offenses listed in HB 1399 include: Murder, Capital Murder, Kidnapping, Aggravated Kidnapping, Smuggling of Persons, Continuous Smuggling of Persons, Trafficking of Persons, Continuous Trafficking of Persons, Continuous Sexual Abuse of Young Child or Children, Indecency with a Child, Assault, Sexual Assault, Aggravated Assault, Aggravated Sexual Assault, Prohibited Sexual Conduct, Robbery, Aggravated Robbery, Burglary, Theft, Promotion of Prostitution, Aggravated Promotion of Prostitution, Compelling Prostitution, Sexual Performance by a Child, and Possession or Promotion of Child Pornography.
The offense must be a felony offense, so not every theft, assault, etc. charge requires DNA collection because many are misdemeanor charges. Additionally, HB 1399 requires that the court notifies applicable law enforcement agency (we interpret that as us at DPS) if the defendant is acquitted of the crime or if the case is dismissed, at which point the profile will be expunged and all samples/records destroyed for the defendant.
Custodian of DNA Records
The DPS Director is the liaison for DNA data, records, evidence, and other related matters between the FBI and DNA laboratories or criminal justice/law enforcement agencies.
A DNA record stored in the DNA database is confidential and is not subject to disclosure under Government Code §411.153. A person commits an offense if the person knowingly discloses information in a DNA record or information related to a DNA analysis of a sample collected under state statute. An offense under this section is a State Jail Felony. A violation under this section constitutes official misconduct.
State CODIS Laboratory
The State CODIS Laboratory in Austin is responsible for receiving, analyzing, and verifying acceptability of subject samples, including AFIS verification of fingerprints on the DNA database cards; entering and storing DNA types into a database; and monitoring and enabling access to that database.
Texas DPS is required to provide a reasonable quantity of sample collection kits to a criminal justice or law enforcement agency in this state, which is required by statute to collect offender samples at no cost to the agency. These kits are only for the purpose of collection of offender samples under this statute and not to be used for suspect sample collections in a criminal case.
DPS stores verified DNA samples for match verification and other quality assurance purposes.
CODIS User Laboratories
A DNA laboratory in the state of Texas that is maintained by a criminal justice agency may apply to become a "CODIS User Laboratory." Texas Administrative Code Title 37, Chapter 28, Subchapter G, requires the DPS Director to govern the regulation of CODIS User Laboratories located in this state.
All CODIS User Labs must complete and submit Form LAB-CO-40 (PDF) with the State CODIS Program, as well as agree to:
- Adhere to specific minimum standards.
- Comply with CODIS policy.
- Maintain Texas Forensic Science Commission Crime Laboratory Accreditation.
- Be subject to annual audits.
CODIS User Laboratories are required to report the results of an analysis, comparison, or other match to a criminal justice or law enforcement agency. The laboratory shall make reasonable efforts to submit the report to the agency no later than 30 days after completing its report of the comparison or match.
DNA Laboratory Compliance
All participating DNA labs, including at DPS, are required by state and federal law to maintain compatibility with "National DNA Index System (NDIS) Procedures" sponsored by the FBI; and must comply with the "Quality Assurance Standards for Forensic DNA Testing Laboratories and DNA Databasing Laboratories."