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  • James R. Wronko

DNA If Your Arrested...Your In A National Criminal Database

In New Jersey, DNA samples are routinely taken from individuals who have been arrested for certain offenses these include all indictable crimes, or felonies and most misdemeanors. Approximalty 15,000 DNA samples are collected yearly by New Jersey alone. The system is managed by the State Police Office of Forensic Sciences. The combined DNA Index System (CODIS) database also operates a National DNA Index System (NDIS) that is administered by the FBI.

Established by the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) under the DNA Identification Act of 1994, CODIS uses a software program and database to match DNA profiles of offenders to profiles of DNA found on crime scene evidence. See the National DNA Index System (NDIS) Operational Procedures Manual (NDIS Manual).

Operational and/or procedural issues not addressed by the DNA Identification Act are decided by the FBI as administrator of the NDIS. The responsibilities of the FBI and the NDIS participants are explained in the NDIS Operational Procedures. Significantly, state and local law enforcement agencies may be excluded from using CODIS if they fail to uphold its quality assurance procedures and standards.

When the New Jersey Forensics Office receives a DNA sample, it analyzes the sample to creat a DNA profile and then forwards that profile to the FBI to be uploaded to CODIS. N.J.S.A. 53:1-20.21. The DNA profile may be used for, among other things, law enforcement identification purposes.

If CODIS identifies significant similarity between the DNA profiles of an offender sample and of a sample found in crime scene evidence, and if an NDIS DNA casework analyst reviews those samples and confirms there is a match , the NDIS sends an “investigative hit notification” to appropriate state authorities, like the Forensics Office. Although this concludes the NDIS Offender Match confirmation process, it is not the end of the matter. The NDIS then discloses to the Forensics Office personal identifiable information about the offender whose DNA profile matched the DNA profile. The Forensics Office informs the relevant law enforcement agency “of the need for a legally obtained sample from the offender that documents the chain of custody” so that the Forensic Office “can then perform DNA analysis on the newly obtained known biological sample.

If during a criminal investigation, DNA recovered from a crime scene preliminarily matches a DNA sample collected from a prior routine arrest, then the State or police agency has the right to apply for and receive authority to detain the individual pursuant to New Jersey Court Rule 3:5A-1 and obtain a follow-up DNA sample. In the matter of the investigation of burglary and theft. (New Jersey Supreme Court issued obtained January 21, 2020).

Specifically, Rule 3:5A-1 provides that, before the filing of a formal criminal charge against a person, an order authorizing the temporary detention of that person and compelling that person to submit to non-testimonial identification procedures for the purpose of obtaining evidence of that person’s physical characteristics may be issued by a judge to the Superior Court.

DNA evidence is used in the investigation and prosecution of murders and homicides, sexual assault and rapes and burglary in addition to other criminal offenses.


If you are the subject of such an investigation detention you should immediately contact one of our experienced criminal attorneys such a James Wronko or Kevin Hewitt to discuss your rights.

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