Familial DNA Searching: Current Approaches

Familial DNA Searching: Current Approaches


January 2015


Familial searching (FS) is an additional search of a DNA profile in a law enforcement DNA database that is conducted after a routine search does not identify any profile matches. FS involves a two-phase process, conducted to develop investigative leads for the purpose of potentially identifying close biological relatives of the source of an unknown forensic profile obtained from crime scene evidence. As clear guidance and documentation of the policies and practices currently employed to ensure proper utilization of familial searching are lacking, this document is designed to educate legal professionals, policy makers, law enforcement and forensic laboratory practitioners of state and local agencies about the current issues, approaches and positions involved with familial searching as applied to criminal investigations. In addition, this document provides an assessment of FS policies and addresses concerns raised from opponents of FS which may be used as a guide to the derivation of policy should an agency choose to conduct FS.

Funding for this Forensic Technology Center of Excellence report was provided by the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.

The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this report are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of Justice.

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