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Criminalistics Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

The following types of items will NOT be accepted by the OSBI for destruction:

  • Biohazardous materials or items containing/contaminated with biohazard substances (blood, semen, etc.)
  • Explosives of any kind, including firecrackers and ammunition
  • Lighters
  • Batteries

In compliance with Title 63 Oklahoma Statutes, Sections 2-507 and 2-505(B), the OSBI will accept controlled dangerous substances and drug paraphernalia as defined by the Uniform Controlled Dangerous Substances Act.  Chemicals for destruction should be packaged separately from controlled dangerous substances and drug paraphernalia.

Sharp objects must be packaged in a puncture-proof container.

Information regarding the OSBI Practicum program can be found here.

The OSBI does provide some items to law enforcement for evidence collection and/or packaging. The quantity of each item able to be distributed is based on the agency size, case submissions, and the available supplies. Download and fill out the OSBI Kit & Supply Request Form (PDF).

Evidence Packaging & Submittal

Please reference this Ignitable Liquid Packaging guide.

The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation laboratories will receive evidence for examination either by personal delivery or by mail with the following exception: Handguns, Long Guns (Rifles and/or Shotguns), and most Forensic Biology evidence must be submitted in person. Sexual assault kits and known DNA reference samples can be mailed to the laboratory for analysis.  It is recommended that if evidence is submitted by mail, a tracked method is utilized. Click here to view the Evidence Guidelines memo from March 2022.

Toxicology evidence is typically submitted by mail through a carrier service (United States Postal Service, UPS, or Federal Express).  Evidence may also be received in person from submitting officers.

No. Firearms may not be mailed for submission due to safety concerns. However, the following OSBI laboratory evidence-receiving locations (Edmond, Tahlequah, McAlester, Lawton, Woodward) accept firearms evidence and will transfer such evidence to the Firearms and Toolmarks Unit located in Edmond, OK.

All firearms must be unloaded when submitted – no exceptions.  Firearms should be submitted in a box with all factory seals reinforced with tape and initials.  For firearms evidence not needing Biology and/or Latent Print analysis, the item may be submitted in a sealed plastic bag. Loose ammunition should never be packaged in the same container as a firearm. Include any associated magazine with the firearm. Live/unfired ammunition is generally not necessary to submit.

Please reference “Evidence Packaging and Submittal Tips” and information located under the Evidence Submission tab at Quality System Overview | Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation for guidance.

A limited number of evidence types are able to be mailed to the OSBI laboratories for analysis.

The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation laboratories require the following evidence types to be submitted in person:

  • Handguns
  • Long Guns (Rifles and/or Shotguns)
  • Evidence requiring refrigeration/freezing, and
  • Most Forensic Biology evidence

NOTE: Sexual assault kits and known DNA reference samples can be mailed to the laboratory for analysis. 

It is recommended that if evidence is submitted by mail, a tracked method is utilized. Click here to view the Evidence Submittal by Mail memo from February 2024.

Firearms & Toolmarks Unit

The Integrated Ballistics Identification System (IBIS) is the equipment and program used to upload images of fired cartridge cases into the National Integrated Ballistics Identification Network (NIBIN), which is maintained by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).  When a cartridge case (whether a test fire or crime evidence) is entered into the system, a proprietary algorithm returns a list of possible ‘matches.’ IBIS does not identify a specific firearm but rather provides investigative leads.

Using crime data, the ATF has established ‘default,’ or automatic search areas, for each IBIS unit.  The OSBI’s IBIS unit is automatically searched to surrounding states and selections of ATF entries. What this means to officers in Oklahoma is that when you submit a firearm or fired cartridge case to the OSBI for entry into NIBIN, your evidence is only searched/compared to evidence from those areas.  Your evidence is not automatically searched/compared against NIBIN entries from across the entire nation.

There are times when investigative information may necessitate expansion of the NIBIN search to include NIBIN entries from other areas of the United States. When this occurs, a manual correlation may be requested and conducted. This may be done by IBIS region, state, or even specific city.

Some examples of situations that may indicate a need for expansion of the search area include:

  • A subject with past violent criminal history outside of the automatic IBIS search area;
  • A subject with known travel plans to/from locations that have them traveling through Oklahoma and on to other states;
  • A subject with past residences outside of the automatic IBIS search area; or
  • A firearm associated with possible drug trafficking across states.

If the need arises to have the firearm(s) and/or fired cartridge case(s) from crime scenes compared to another geographical location, contact the OSBI Firearms and Toolmarks Unit to discuss an additional search.

At this time, it is not feasible to compare every firearm and/or fired cartridge case from crime scenes to the whole nation. This would delay the results from being returned to the requesting agency, as well as to other agencies, as the program and servers can only perform so many correlations at a time. This is why each agency is asked to contact the OSBI Firearms and Toolmarks Unit when asking for a manual correlation, to ensure resources are used optimally. 

If your agency has any unsolved cases that may benefit from a manual correlation to another region outside of the automatic IBIS search area and has already been submitted and entered by the OSBI, this manual correlation can likely be performed without the re-submission of that evidence. Please, contact the OSBI Firearms and Toolmarks Unit to further discuss this potential investigative tool.

If you have any further questions or comments, please, do not hesitate to contact the OSBI Firearms and Toolmarks Unit at 405-330-6724 or toll-free at 800-522-8253.

NIBIN stands for the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network.  NIBIN is accessed through IBIS (see the answer to “What is IBIS” above).

Revolvers, single shot and/or break-open shotguns, lever action rifles, bolt action rifles or shotguns, antiques/muzzle loaders/black powder, or hunting rifle calibers (i.e. 30-06 SPRG, 7mm Mauser, 303 British, 308 WIN, 243 WIN).

1) Semi-automatic pistols of the following calibers:

  • 22 LR / 22 Long Rifle
  • 25 Auto / 25 ACP
  • 32 Auto / 32 ACP
  • 380 Auto / 9mm kurz / 9mm Corto
  • 9x18 MAK / 9x18 Makarov
  • 9mm Luger / 9mm Parabellum
  • 357 SIG
  • 40 S&W / 40 Auto
  • 10mm Auto
  • 45 Auto / 45 ACP

2) Semi-automatic rifles of the following calibers:

  • 22 LR / 22 Long Rifle
  • 223 REM / 5.56x45mm (example: AR-15)
  • 7.62x39mm (example: AK-47)
  • Rifles that fire any of the above pistol calibers

3) Pump-action shotguns

4) Semi-automatic shotguns

5) Fired casings collected from crime scenes

Forensic Biology Unit

Touch DNA is referring to a source of DNA likely to be from skin cells that are transferred from a person to an object after extended physical contact.  Examples of touch DNA items are cigarette butts, some clothing, straws, bottles, cans, etc.  DNA analysis can be performed on touch DNA items, and it oftentimes results in robust DNA information.

Brief contact items are unlikely to contain sufficient transfer of skin cells to the object. Examples of items to contain what is referred to as brief contact DNA include door handles, papers, visible fingerprints on a surface, countertops, etc. DNA analysis will generally not be performed on brief contact items at the OSBI laboratories.

  1. The evidence submitted has to be from a crime scene
  2. The evidence cannot be seized from the suspect’s person or his/her possession
  3. The profiles developed are not from the victim(s)

Please remember, evidence can be informative for your case without being CODIS eligible; for example, victim blood on suspect pants.  For additional guidance or to discuss a specific case, please contact the CODIS Unit at 405-330-6724.

No, the offender collection kits are for the DNA database only. They do not have a chain of custody associated with them and are not considered evidence. You do not need a special kit to collect a known DNA sample. Using sterile swabs and storing them in a sealed evidence envelope is sufficient.

No, offender DNA samples/profiles are confidential and cannot be released for use in a civil case. Suggestions for other samples to consider for this resource: paternal grandparents, paternal (full) siblings, medical samples such as biopsy slides, or teeth.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation facilitates the use of a national DNA database, which is called the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) database.  It can be used to search profiles within the state of Oklahoma and throughout the United States.  CODIS is a useful tool in providing investigative leads to law enforcement agencies throughout the state. It is particularly useful when there are no suspects or a suspect has not yet been developed for a case. CODIS is also providing useful information on cold cases.

Yes, crime scene evidence DNA profiles can be entered into the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) database (as long as they meet the eligibility requirements set forth by the FBI) and searched for investigative leads. When there is a CODIS hit to a subject, a letter will be sent to the investigator.  The investigator should collect a known reference sample (buccal swab) from that individual and submit it to the laboratory so comparisons can be made between the reference sample and evidence profiles.

In most cases, the amount of sample that is required for DNA analysis is minimal, and every effort is made to preserve at least half of the stain for additional testing if necessary.  If a sample will be consumed in testing, the laboratory will contact the assigned officer or District Attorney’s office to obtain written permission to consume the sample.

Every case is different. The timeframe for analysis is dependent on the number of samples that were submitted and the current number of pending cases of the laboratory at the time. The duty biologist or supervisor of the laboratory analyzing the evidence may be contacted to get an estimate of the turn-around time. Estimates should not be mistaken for guaranteed time frames.

NOTE: The timeframes change over time, so please call often to get current average turnaround times.

A known reference sample is DNA taken directly from a person (i.e. victim or suspect).  A buccal swab is DNA collected from inside a person’s mouth.  To collect buccal swabs, hold the sticks of two sterile swabs together and rub the swab ends along the inside of the person’s cheek and gum area. Allow the swabs to air dry in a swab box or other appropriate container.  Package the dried swabs into a container that is clearly labeled with the person's name. Buccal swabs do not need to be refrigerated. Known reference samples from the medical examiner’s office are typically submitted on a blood card.

Samples should be collected in a way that will avoid sample destruction and degradation.  Biological evidence is best preserved in a dry, cool environment.  Items of evidence should be packaged in brown paper sacks, evidence envelopes, or similar paper packaging material.  Biological evidence should never be packaged in plastic bags. Please reference “Evidence Packaging and Submittal Tips” and information located under the Evidence Submission tab at Quality System Overview | Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation for additional guidance.

Biological evidence must be retained in accordance with Title 22 OS 1372.A.  "A criminal justice agency having...custody of biological evidence from a violent felony offense...shall retain and preserve that biological evidence for such a period of time as any individual convicted of that crime remains incarcerated."  Title 74 OS 150.28b.D “A collected sexual assault evidence kit, whether tested or untested, must be retained in a secure, environmentally safe manner for not less than fifty (50) years or for the length of the statute of limitations for the alleged crime, whichever is longer.”

Forensic Toxicology Unit

Storage of specimens shall be accomplished in such manner to uphold the identity and integrity of specimens, maintain chain of custody, exclude tampering with and unauthorized access to or exchange or loss of specimens, and provide requisite security for evidentiary purposes.  Refrigeration of biological samples is recommended; Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault Kits REQUIRE refrigeration. 

Contact the Criminalist who issued the report by calling 405-330-6724.

Blood samples should be collected in grey top tubes (or equivalent) containing 10% potassium oxalate and sodium fluoride to preserve the samples.  The OSBI provides grey top tubes and/or blood vials containing these preservatives to customers (OSBI Blood Specimen Collection Kit or Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault Kits).  Hospital or clinical specimens containing serum or plasma collected pursuant to medical treatment may also be submitted.  NOTE:  Serum/plasma ethanol concentrations are higher than corresponding whole blood concentrations.

The Toxicology Lab will also analyze urine (drug-facilitated sexual assaults) and unknown liquids believed to contain alcohol (alcoholic beverage content).

Yes, the OSBI Toxicology Lab is accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI)- National Accreditation Board (ANAB). Learn about the OSBI Forensic Laboratory System accreditation.

OSBI Blood Specimen Collection Kits are available to law enforcement agencies in the State of Oklahoma.  Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault (DFSA) kits are also available for hospitals. Please see OSBI Kit & Supply Request Form for obtaining blood kits or DFSA kits. 

The defendant’s specimen will be retained for 60 days from the date of collection in accordance with Title 47 O.S. § 752. Remaining specimens involving impaired driving may be destroyed after 4 months from the date received by the OSBI.

The defendant/defendant’s attorney may request an independent test of the defendant’s blood sample at the defendant’s own expense. The defendant is responsible for making all necessary arrangements for the independent testing of their sample.

Click here for the form to request independent testing of your blood sample.

For defense attorneys requesting independent testing of their client's blood sample, please fill out the letter template here, print the letter template on your firm's official letterhead, and mail to:

Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation
Attn: Toxicology Unit
800 E. 2nd Street
Edmond, OK 73034

The request can also be faxed to 405-330-6974 or emailed to

The defendant/defendant’s attorney may send a letter to the OSBI requesting the blood test results for DUI/D cases.

Click here for the form to request a copy of your blood test results.

For defense attorneys requesting the blood test results for their client, please fill out the letter template here, print the letter template on your firm's official letterhead, and mail to:

Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation
Attn: Toxicology Unit
800 E. 2nd Street
Edmond, OK 73034

The request can also be faxed to 405-330-6974 or emailed to

Latent Evidence Unit

Known elimination prints are not entered into any database.  A scanned copy of the prints is placed in the case record, as required by accreditation standards.  Once the case is complete, the original print card is returned to the submitting agency.

No.  While it is helpful to have known prints submitted, they are not necessary for latent print analysis and comparison to be performed, as unidentified latent prints can be searched through our automated fingerprint databases.

Known prints are a deliberate recording of a person’s fingerprints/palm prints. 

Known prints can be collected utilizing black printer’s ink on a standard tenprint card or clean white paper.  Known prints may also be collected electronically utilizing a Livescan device and printing the card for submission to the OSBI Latent Evidence Unit.  Please include the person’s identifying information including name; date of birth; signature; and, if on plain white paper, identify the anatomical source (i.e. finger—right thumb, left index, etc.; right or left palm).

Having an individual touch a surface before powdering and lifting the prints is not an appropriate method of collecting known prints.  If known prints are collected in this manner, they will not be examined by the OSBI Latent Evidence Unit.

No.  The FBI conducts tire track comparisons; however, the case must meet the FBI case acceptance guidelines.  Please refer to the Handbook of Forensic Services — FBI

No.  However, the FBI has a footwear database. In order for a case to be processed by the FBI, the case must meet the FBI case acceptance guidelines.  Please refer to the Handbook of Forensic Services — FBI.

Yes, known shoes are needed for footwear comparisons. The OSBI will not analyze shoe impressions from scenes without known shoes. Please submit the actual shoes (not photographs) needing comparison to scene impressions.

Yes!  Fired cartridge cases can be processed for latent prints before or after Firearms examination.  Please make the request for both examinations during submittal.

It depends!  Depending on the item (size, texture, material) it may be possible to swab the item for contact DNA and perform latent print analysis.  The recommended course of action is consult with a DNA analyst and/or a latent print analyst allowing for discussion, as a team, the best examination for the specific evidence and circumstance.  Sometimes analysts don’t know if both analyses can be performed until the evidence is viewed by each analyst.

Many methods are valid for developing and preserving prints.  Generally, at a crime scene, the preferred method for developing latent prints is the use of black powder.  Latent prints developed with black powder can be lifted with fingerprint lifting tape and placed on a white background (i.e. white index cards or white paper). Good photography techniques can also be used to preserve developed latent prints.  The use of colored or fluorescent powders for latent print development is not recommended.  The use of hinge lifters for lifting developed latent prints is not recommended.   

The OSBI Latent Evidence Unit has more specialized methods for developing latent prints in the laboratory.  It is recommended that items that can be collected at a crime scene be submitted to the laboratory for latent print processing. If you have questions about the best way to proceed, please contact an OSBI latent print analyst for suggestions or guidance at 405-330-6724.

The OSBI Latent Evidence Unit has access to search the OSBI Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS), which is the state repository for criminal and civil fingerprint records in the state of Oklahoma.  The OSBI Lab has access to search the Oklahoma City Police Department (OCPD) automated fingerprint database, which houses fingerprint records collected by OCPD. We also have access to search the FBI Next Generation Identification (NGI) system, which is the national repository for criminal and civil fingerprint records.  Additionally, OSBI can submit searches to the Department of Homeland Security Biometric Services Division or other agencies, as necessary.

Forensic Science Center
800 East 2nd Street
Edmond, OK  73034
Phone: 405-330-6724
Fax: 405-330-6207

McAlester Evidence Facility
701 W. Carl Albert Parkway
McAlester, OK 74501
Phone: 918-302-9535
Fax: 918-423-7586

Northeastern Regional Laboratory
1995 Airport Parkway
Tahlequah, OK 74464
Phone: 918-456-0653
Fax: 918-458-0037

Lawton Evidence Facility
1010 SW Railroad Street
Lawton, Oklahoma 73507
Phone: 580-291-8127
Fax: 580-357-9571

Last Modified on May 14, 2024