Lawfully Owed DNA

Lawfully owed DNA is defined as a DNA sample from a qualifying offender who should have their sample in CODIS (based on the type and time of the offense in relation to applicable state law), but from whom a sample has never been collected or submitted to a lab for testing. Investigators and prosecutors rely on samples in CODIS to help solve cases and bring justice to victims. The solvability of cases increases as the database becomes populated with more samples. Thus, collecting lawfully owed DNA from qualifying offenders contributes to a comprehensive approach to addressing sexual assault reform.

In FY2016, the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) added a purpose area to the SAKI solicitation for the collection of lawfully owed DNA. Funding awarded under this purpose area can be used to 1) conduct a census of convicted offenders who lawfully owe DNA, 2) develop a DNA collection plan and 3) review, improve, and implement optimal collection protocols to ensure sample collection policies are adhered to and that samples are being obtained from all eligible individuals for CODIS entry. Please see the table below which highlights funding awarded by BJA since the inception of the lawfully owed DNA purpose area and performance metrics to date.

Lawfully Owed DNA SAKI Grantees

Grantee Year / Amount
Cuyahoga County (OH) Prosecutor's Office FY2016 = $1,000,000
FY2019 = $1,000,000
Nevada Office of the Attorney General FY2017 = $933,656
County of Washington (OR) FY2018 = $974,066
State Attorney's Office 4th Judicial Circuit (FL) FY2018 = $880,933
FY2021 = $1,000,000
Charlotte-Mecklenburg (NC) Police Department FY2018 = $452,637
West Virginia Division of Justice and Community Services FY2018 = $1,000,000
Washington State Attorney General's Office FY2019 = $1,000,000
FY2020 = $670,000
FY2021 = $983,641
Texas Department of Public Safety FY2019 = $1,000,000
FY2022 = $1,500,000
Tennessee Bureau of Investigation FY2020 = $1,000,000
City of Duluth (MN) FY2020 = $662,659
City of Fresno (CA) FY2021 = $1,000,000
Arkansas Department of Public Safety FY2022 = $1,000,000
Idaho State Police FY2022 = $1,500,000
New York City Police Department FY2022 = $1,500,000

The data metrics below are specific to lawfully owed DNA samples and are mutually exclusive from the unsubmitted SAK metrics on the Performance Metrics and Research page.

401,705   samples identified
15,502   samples collected
17,192   samples sent for testing
15,097   samples tested to completion
13,908   profiles uploaded to CODIS
299   CODIS hits
115   CODIS hits to sex offenders
19   CODIS hits to serial sex offenders
13   CODIS hits to homicides
145   CODIS hits to other crimes
36   cases charged
13   convictions

  Note: Cumulative performance metrics are updated quarterly based on state and local level reports.


Collecting Lawfully Owed DNA
To resolve violent crimes, investigators and prosecutors often rely on DNA samples to build a successful case with the assistance of CODIS. Collecting DNA samples from qualifying offenders increases the number of profiles in CODIS, therefore leading to increased probabilities of a "hit". This document shows the importance of collecting lawfully owed DNA and the importance of implementing DNA collection laws.

Collecting Lawfully Owed DNA to Assist with Sexual Assault Investigations
In this webinar, representatives from the Cuyahoga County SAKI site discuss using SAKI funding to address lawfully owed DNA, including current efforts to collect lawfully owed DNA as well as legal concerns and issues encountered during this process. Data is presented on a number of lawfully owed DNA profiles that were not previously in CODIS in Cuyahoga County.

Lawfully Owed DNA Part 2
This webinar is presented by Amy Jeanguenat from Mindgen LLC and Jayann Sepich, Founder of DNA Saves. This webinar, the second in a two-part series, focuses on recognizing the importance of obtaining and processing lawfully owed DNA samples in adequate time to recognize the full benefits of the CODIS database. Jayann Sepich discusses the relevance of lawfully owed DNA databases and the complexity of data collection. Amy Jeanguenat discusses considerations and strategies for assessing the scope of sample collection, tracking, and processing within a jurisdiction and the impact to the crime laboratory.

Key Considerations for a Multidisciplinary Team Approach to Creating a Lawfully Owed DNA Census
This resource discusses the importance of developing a comprehensive lawfully owed DNA census with input from a multidisciplinary team to ensure the incorporation of ideas and input from different and relevant professional backgrounds.

Key Considerations for the Creation of a Lawfully Owed DNA Census
This resource highlights key considerations to assist with completing a census of individuals who lawfully owe DNA. Topics such as, determining personnel to assist, developing a list of qualifying offenses, and determining appropriate data elements are all discussed in this brief.

Key Considerations and Strategies for Collecting Lawfully Owed DNA
This resource outlines various strategies for collecting lawfully owed DNA samples identified on a census including confirming location, establishing collection teams, creating a collection plan and sample tracking.

Lovell, R. (2022). Detailing the process of identifying and the outcomes of efforts to address lawfully "owed" DNA. Journal of Forensic Science 00:1-13.

Lovell , R., Klingenstein, J., McGuire, M., & Luminais, M. (2019). Completing a Census of Individuals Who Lawfully "Owe" DNA in Cuyahoga County. 1-18.

Lovell , R., & Klingenstein, J. (2019). Outcomes from Efforts to Swab Offenders Who Lawfully "Owe" DNA in Cuyahoga County. 1-19.