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Forensic Biology Frequently Asked Questions

 

Q:  How should evidence be packaged for submission to the Forensic Biology Unit?

Q:  How should samples be collected for submission to the Forensic Biology Unit?

Q:  Can I mail my evidence to the laboratory for analysis?

Q:  What is a known reference sample and how should it be collected?

Q:  How long will it take to get results on the evidence that was submitted?

Q:  Are samples consumed in the DNA process?

Q:  Should cases without suspects be submitted?

Q:  What is CODIS?

Q:  If a person is already in the CODIS database, does a known buccal swab still need to be submitted from the suspect?

Q:  How do I know if the DNA profiles developed in my case were put into CODIS?  How do I know if a profile that was previously entered into 

CODIS is still being searched?

Q:  I need a paternity test, but my child's father is deceased.  I know he was in prison in Oklahoma can I get his profile for the paternity test?

Q:  Can I used the offender collection kit to submit a known sample for a case?

Q:  I received a CODIS hit letter and it says I need to use this to get a search warrant to collect a DNA sample from the listed individual.  Why

do I need another sample?

Q:  I have a question about whether or not my case is CODIS eligible.  How can I know for sure?

Q:  What is the difference between brief contact and touch DNA?

Q:  How does the notification from the FBI that there were errors in data used to calculate population statistics affect my cases?

Q:  If I am a student and interested in a practicum with the Forensic Biology Unit at the OSBI, where can I obtain information on the program?

 

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Q:  How should evidence be packaged for submission to the Forensic Biology Unit?

A:  Evidence Submittal Packaging Requirements

Q:  How should samples be collected for submission to the Forensic Biology Unit?  

A:  Samples should be collected in a way that will avoid sample destruction and degradation.  Biological evidence is best preserved in a dry, cooler

     environment.  Items of evidence should be packaged in brown paper sacks, evidence envelopes, or similar packaging material.  Biological

     evidence should never be packaged in plastic bags.

    Note: For more specific packaging information, please, go to:   Evidence Collection Manual

Q:  Can I mail my evidence to the laboratory for analysis?

A:  No. Due to chain of custody issues and the laboratory's desire to communicate with the submitting officer regarding the submission of evidence, the 

     evidence should be hand delivered to one of the OSBI’s laboratories.

Q:  What is a known reference sample, and how should it be collected? 

A:  A known reference sample is a DNA sample obtained from a particular individual (i.e. buccal swab from a victim or suspect).  Known reference

     samples should be collected as buccal swabs.  A buccal swab is a swabbing of the inside of a person’s cheek and gum area.  A sterile swab should 

     be used when taking a known reference sample. A minimum of two swabs should be used, and these swabs should be taken at the same time.  The 

     swabs should be allowed to air dry in a swab box or another appropriate container.  The packaging should be clearly labeled with the individual's 

     name.  The buccal swabs do not need to be refrigerated.  Known reference samples from the medical examiner’s office are typically submitted on a 

     blood card.

Q:  How long will it take to get results on the evidence that was submitted?

A:  Every case is different.  Analysis is dependent on the number of samples that were submitted and the current backlog of the laboratory at the

time.  The duty biologist or supervisor of the laboratory analyzing the evidence may be contacted to get an estimate of the turn-around time. Estimates

should not be mistaken for guaranteed time frames.

Q:  Are samples consumed in the DNA process?

A:  In most cases, the amount of sample that is required for DNA analysis is minimal, and every effort is made to keep at least half of the stain for 

     additional testing if necessary.  If a sample will be consumed in testing, the laboratory will contact the assigned officer or District Attorney’s office to 

     obtain written permission to consume the sample.

Q:  Should cases without suspects be submitted?

A:  Yes, if there is no suspect and there is evidence from the crime scene, a DNA profile can be obtained and entered into the Combined DNA Index 

     System (CODIS) database to attempt to develop an investigative lead.  If there is a CODIS hit to an unknown suspect, then a hit letter will be sent 

     to the investigator.  At that time a known buccal swab should be obtained from the individual and submitted to the laboratory.  Comparisons will 

     then be made between the known reference sample and the evidence submitted.  

Q:  What is CODIS?

A:  The Federal Bureau of Investigation facilitates the use of a national DNA database, which is called the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) 

     database.  It can be used to search profiles within the state of Oklahoma and throughout the United States.  CODIS is a useful tool in providing 

     investigative leads to law enforcement agencies throughout the state.  It is particularly useful when there are no suspects or a suspect has not yet 

     been developed. CODIS is also providing useful information on cold cases.  For more information view the CODIS webpage.

Q:  If a person is already in the CODIS database, does a known buccal swab still need to be submitted from the suspect?

A:  Yes, a known buccal swab should be collected and submitted for all suspects identified in a case at the time of submission of evidence to the OSBI 

     FBU.  The CODIS database is for investigative leads only and cannot be used for comparison to cases submitted.  Furthermore, CODIS samples do 

     not follow the same chain of custody as evidentiary samples and cannot be used as known reference samples.  

Q:   How do I know if the DNA profiles developed in my case were put into CODIS?  How do I know if a profile that was previously entered into

CODIS is still being searched?

A:   For cases since July 2011, there has either been a statement in the DNA report or a letter sent stating what profiles were entered into CODIS.  If you

have any questions regarding a specific case, you can contact the CODIS Unit.

Q: I need a paternity test, but my child’s father is deceased.  I know he was in prison in Oklahoma, can I get his profile for the paternity test?

A.   No, offender DNA samples/profiles are confidential and cannot be released for use in a civil case.  Other samples to consider: paternal grandparents,

paternal (full) siblings, medical samples such as biopsy slides, or teeth.

Q:  Can I use the offender collection kit to submit a known sample for a case?

A.   No.  The offender collection kits are for the DNA Databank only.  They do not have a chain of custody associated with them, and are not considered

evidence.  You do not need a special kit to collect a known DNA sample.  Using sterile swabs and storing them in a sealed evidence envelope is

sufficient.

Q:  I received a CODIS hit letter and it says I need to use this to get a search warrant to collect a DNA sample from the listed individual.  Why 

do I need another sample?

A.   Offender samples used by the DNA Databank do not have an associated chain of custody, and are generally inadmissible in court.  A new sample is

needed to do a direct comparison between the individual listed in the CODIS hit letter and your case.  No statistical analysis can be performed without

a known DNA sample.

Q:   I have a question about whether or not my case is CODIS eligible.  How can I know for sure?

A.   In general:

1. The evidence submitted has to be from a crime scene
2. The evidence cannot be seized from the suspect’s person or his possession
3. The profiles developed are not from the victim(s)

Please remember evidence can be informative for your case without being CODIS eligible; for example, victim blood on suspect pants.  

For additional guidance or to discuss a specific case, please contact the CODIS Unit.  

Q:  What is the difference between brief contact and touch DNA?

A:  DNA analysis will not be performed on brief contact items. Brief contact items are those items considered unlikely to contain sufficient transfer of 

     skin cells to the object.  Examples of brief contact items would include door handles, counter tops, etc.  Touch DNA analysis can be performed on 

     items that would result in skin cells being left on objects due to extended contact.  Examples of Touch DNA extended contact items would include 

     some clothing, cigarette butts, straws, bottles, cans, etc.

Q:  How does the notification from the FBI that there were errors in data used to calculate population statistics affect my cases?

A:  Please, read the Notification Regarding Population Statistics in DNA reports.

Q:  If I am a student and interested in a practicum with the Forensic Biology Unit at the OSBI, where can I obtain information on the program?

A:  For more information on the program, please go to the main laboratory FAQ's.