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Are Fingerprints at the Crime Scene Enough Evidence?

By Hager & Schwartz, P.A.

February 20, 2020

When defendants are accused of crimes, we want them to remember their rights and keep level heads even if they’re led to believe evidence can convict them. Fingerprints are unique to individuals and provide accurate identification. They are never, however, absolute scientific evidence any individual committed a crime.

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Anyone may be present at any scene in legal, harmless capacities. Fingerprints may establish people were present where a crime occurred, but not necessarily when the crime took place. At Hager & Schwartz, P.A., we are former Florida state prosecutors who understand nuanced realities and facts, which make fingerprints alone insufficient evidence in many cases.

How Are Fingerprints Discovered?

Fingerprints abound in everyday life. They appear on windows, mirrors, and papers from normal handling. Countless substances human fingertips come into contact with, from ink to blood to makeup, can leave fingerprints behind.

Latent fingerprints are less visible or invisible to the naked eye. These must be sourced through special techniques. A common latent fingerprint retrieval method is dusting with fine powder and lifting patterns with tape for further analysis.

Fingerprints Can Identify, But Not Necessarily Convict

Fingerprinting is customary to check criminal history and more when people want to work with children or the government, for instance. It does not mean they are accused of a crime.

Another benefit of fingerprinting, outside criminal justice contexts, is the establishment of an emergency means of identification. In many unfortunate cases of a body’s discovery, fingerprints confirmed the deceased’s identity.

When Your Fingerprints Match Those at the Crime Scene

Evidence collectors hunt for fingerprints at crime scenes to seek out potential suspects. Depending on the crime and scene, thousands of fingerprints may be present. Most could be degraded and unusable.

Police, detectives, and prosecutors may claim a suspect’s fingerprints match fingerprints at a crime scene. Defense attorneys know a "match" may not be absolute. This uncommon knowledge is why suspects should remain silent and acquire representation.

Our Team Can Help

We step in when pressures make the accused feel guilty before they are proven, as formidable lawyers who protect rights. All are entitled to competent counsel to help weigh the totality of evidence beyond fingerprints at a scene.

If you or someone you know is battling this situation, our Miami criminal defense lawyers at Hager & Schwartz, P.A. would love to review the case and help if we may, so do contact us today or call (305) 330-1360 to learn more.