DNA Frequently Asked Questions

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What is the New York State DNA Databank?

The New York State DNA Databank is a computerized collection of DNA descriptions or "profiles" derived from DNA samples of convicted offenders required by law to provide a sample; from crime scenes; from missing persons or the relatives of missing persons, and from offenders who voluntarily provide a sample in connection with a plea bargain, participation in a Department of Correctional Services temporary release program, or release on parole or probation. These profiles are maintained in the convicted offender index, the forensic index, the missing persons index, and the subject index, respectively. The DNA Databank is maintained at the New York State Police Forensic Investigation Center in Albany.

What is the function of the New York State DNA Databank?

The primary function of the DNA Databank is to maintain DNA profiles of convicted offenders that can be used by law enforcement to identify a perpetrator of a crime when DNA evidence is retrieved from a crime scene.

A DNA profile can be developed from miniscule amounts of material (e.g., saliva, skin oil). These profiles can now be submitted to the DNA Databank to determine whether a match exists against a convicted offender profile or against evidence from another unsolved crime.

What are the New York State DNA Qualifying Offenses?

Under New York State law, any person convicted and sentenced for any felony under any state law or Penal Law misdemeanor is required to provide a DNA sample for inclusion in the DNA Databank. Any offender convicted in a New York State court who is required to register as a sex offender must provide a DNA sample for inclusion in the Databank. More information about DNA qualifying offenses.

How does the DNA Databank work?

DNA evidence is collected from a crime scene, and analyzed by a forensic laboratory accredited in DNA testing. A scientist develops a DNA "profile" and uploads it to the state DNA Databank.

That profile is then run against the convicted-offender DNA profiles in the State Databank to determine if a match exists. In addition, profiles from other unsolved cases are compared against it to identify serial crimes.

The profile is uploaded to the Federal DNA Index System for comparison with DNA profiles from other states. DNA profiles remain in the Federal Databank and are regularly searched against new profiles as they are added to the system.

How does a local law enforcement agency determine whether a DNA "match" has been made?

If a match occurs, the laboratory that submitted the profiles confirms the test results. Once this has been completed, the laboratory reports the results to the investigative agency.

What safeguards are provided to protect against unauthorized access to DNA information in the Databank?

The Databank information is protected by law and by internal procedure in the laboratories. Any person who intentionally discloses a DNA test result to an unauthorized person or agency, or intentionally uses or receives DNA records for an unauthorized purpose, is guilty of a class E felony. In addition, each accredited DNA Laboratory in the State is required to operate under an approved information security plan providing for security of the systems in their agency. Both physical and software access are limited to those who operate the system.