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Do fingerprints really prove anything?

On Behalf of | Nov 29, 2021 | Criminal Defense

Most people assume that finding fingerprints at the scene is a sure-fire way to determine who committed a specific crime. You see this all the time in detective shows. The detective finds prints at the scene, and everyone involved acts as if they’ve solved the case. 

But are fingerprints this type of irrefutable evidence? Do they really prove anything? 

Understanding the problems with fingerprint evidence 

There are a few problems with fingerprints as evidence, starting with the fact that even a positive identification merely places someone at the scene at some point. It doesn’t prove anything more than that. 

For instance, maybe you’re being accused of robbing a bank because you fit the general profile of the person who did it. The police found your fingerprint on the bank counter. That sounds like evidence that you committed the crime, but what if you just came to the bank earlier in the day to make a deposit? It’s not as simple as it sounds. 

Beyond that, there are plenty of examples of fingerprint analysts making mistakes and connecting those prints to the wrong individuals. People have spent months and even years in jail due to these errors, and that’s only from the errors that we know about. So the fingerprint may not even prove that you were at the scene, let alone that you did anything illegal while you were there. 

If you’ve been falsely accused, you need to know what legal steps you can take to protect your future. Never assume that the case is already over, no matter what type of evidence the authorities claim that they have.