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Familial DNA Searching: Current Approaches

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2015
82 pages

This project's goal was to develop a document that instructs legal professionals, policymakers, law enforcement officials, and forensic laboratory practitioners on the issues, approaches, and positions involved with "familial searching" (FS) in criminal investigations.


FS is an additional search of a DNA profile in law enforcement DNA databases that is conducted after a routine search does not identify any DNA profile matches. FS consists of a two-phase process that is conducted to develop investigative leads related to the identification of close biological relatives of the source of an unknown DNA forensic profile obtained from crime-scene evidence. FS is based on the concept that first-order relatives, such as a sibling or parent/offspring, often will have more alleles of their DNA profiles in common than those of unrelated individuals. The described project involved the development of a webinar series entitled "Familial DNA Searching: Understanding the Current State of Affairs." The purpose of the webinar series was to discuss the various FS policies and practices, including technical considerations, legal challenges, comparison with other types of DNA searches, and implementation ramifications. The overall intent of the webinar series is to guide the development of FS policy for an agency that chooses to conduct it. The appendixes summarize the content and objectives of each of the four webinar presentations in the series; discuss the literature review and success stories in the use of FS; present sample familial DNA protocols; and list biographies of the project team. 12 exhibits

Date Published: January 1, 2015