Statewide CODIS DNA Database Prgm FAQs

November 9, 2020

Question: What is the convicted offender database?

Answer: A database of DNA profiles is being compiled of offenders in the state of Texas. This database 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 database, 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. Juveniles qualify for DNA collection under the following statutes: Government Code 411.148, sec (a)(2)(A) and (B), Code of Criminal Procedure Article 42A.054 and Family Code, section 54.0409They do not, however, qualify under HB 1399 or HB 3956 – the arrestee law.

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. For arrestees refusing DNA collection at arrest, Code of Criminal Procedure Article 17.47 (b), stipulates a magistrate shall require DNA collection as a condition of bond/bail release.

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: The current criteria for eligibility can be found in Texas Government Code Chapter 411.1471 – 411.149, and also in Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Chapter 42A.352. Additionally, this information is consolidated in the CODIS DNA Procedural Guidelines located in Chapter 19 of the Crime Laboratory Division Manual.

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

Answer: 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 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.