How are Fingerprints Used in the Prosecution?
Hi, this is attorney Kevin Hayslett and the question is –How are fingerprints used in a criminal trial or criminal prosecution? For about the past 200 years, we have seen the advent of the use of fingerprints. Most folks know that no two fingerprints are identical. The early crime investigators and the early detectives in Europe and in England developed fingerprint evidence as a way to prove if a person committed a crime or if that person was at a particular place at the time the crime occurred. Use of fingerprints is usually determined by using a latent fingerprint, which means a fingerprint that was found visibly on the scene. For instance, on a window of a burglary case or on a weapon. Then comparing that latent or lifted fingerprint to the known fingerprint that was taken from the accused. The way it works is that they take special dust or ultraviolet lighting and they will lift or pull a latent fingerprint that was found on a piece of evidence, such as building or a piece of glass, and then compare that with the known fingerprint from the accused.
Now, professionals in the area of fingerprints will look for certain identifying marks to determine whether or not the ridges match. Most crime scene investigators will look for certain numbers of identified marks between the two fingerprints, between the latent and the known. If they can match a certain set, they can determine that those two fingerprints were identical and that the one they found at the crime scene matches the one of the accused.
It is up to the judge in most criminal cases to allow that fingerprint evidence to be introduced as demonstrative evidence. The judge must determine that:
A. It is Relevant
B. It is Material
C. It would assist the trial of fact or Jury
Now, just because a fingerprint professional testifies that the fingerprints match, does not mean that the person is not subject to cross examination. Remember the defense lawyer, or the lawyer representing the accused, also has the ability to bring in their own professional, to indicate to a jury that the fingerprints do not match. So remember, fingerprint evidence has been going on for the past several hundred years. It is evidence to show that a person was at a certain place at a particular time; for instance, the scene of a murder or the scene of a burglary. Remember that no two fingerprints are alike. Also remember, that in order to be a match there must be several types of comparisons, several types of ridges that should be compared. Several marks on both sets of fingerprints need to be identical in order for that fingerprint to be match.
The criminal defense attorneys at Carlson, Meissner, Hart & Hayslett, P.A. are fighting for our clients rights in criminal defense cases in Clearwater, Tampa, Bradenton, Spring Hill, Pinellas, Pasco, New Port Richey, Manatee, Hillsborough and Hernando Counties in Florida.
Se Habla Español.
Kevin Hayslett, Esq.
J. Kevin Hayslettis an attorney practicing in the areas of Criminal Defense and DUI Defense from the Clearwater office and Hillsborough office. Kevin is an avid tennis player and is currently nationally rated in singles and doubles. You can follow Kevin onGoogle+, oron Radio IO on his show, "Kevin's Law". Kevin can also be heard on the Sirius Satellite Radio show during the "Ask the Lawyer" segment, which can be heard the first Thursday of every month.