U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Forensic DNA Education for Law Enforcement Decisionmakers


Home  |  Glossary  |  Resources  |  Help  |  Contact Us  |  Course Map


Family posing for a photo together
National Institute of Justice (NIJ) (see reuse policy).

Familial DNA searching is a process that enables forensic scientists to broaden the scope of the searches they conduct in DNA databases. CODIS is software used to operate the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) National DNA Index System (NDIS), which is a database that is used by publicly funded DNA laboratories. If an offender hit does not occur during the initial search of an evidentiary DNA profile, this criminal might still be found by identifying close family members. Specialized computer software can be used to search the DNA databases for close family relatives of the person whose DNA profile is in the crime scene evidence. This is possible because close relatives are more likely to have similar DNA profiles than people who are unrelated.1 The process' nuances and the need for explicit statutory authorization will be discussed in this module, including the crime fighting benefits urged by proponents and the concerns of those who oppose allowing this use of DNA databases.

1 Frederick R. Bieber, Charles H. Brenner, David Lazer, Finding Criminals Through DNA of Their Relatives, May 11, 2006. (Registration Required)

Back Forward