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Expert Witness Testimony Regarding Fingerprint Analysis

     By HG.org

Law enforcement and prosecutors rely on fingerprint analysis to convict criminals when their fingerprints are found at a crime scene. However, it usually takes an expert witness to examine and fully understand if this evidence is enough to lead to a conviction or if it is too weak in regard to the case and the defendantís circumstances.
Fingerprint analysis is not without flaws. Sometimes the evidence shows that someone halfway around the world that could not take part in the criminal or civil action has some involvement in the proceedings. However, with an expert witness, it is possible for his or her testimony to shed some light on which person has a connection to the injury or damage to another individual. As part of the proof, it often bolsters the strength of other evidence to prove liability and give the judge or jury enough information to deliberate fully. The professional becomes invaluable in explaining what the fingerprint means and how it may prove that a person is in the vicinity of a crime.

What Is Fingerprint Analysis?

Through matching a personís fingerprints to evidence left behind at a crime scene, an expert may show how the person has a connection to the incident. It may not give definitive proof that he or she committed the illegal act, but the fingerprints give the whereabouts of the person they belong to at the scene. The analysis often occurs through computer recognition of patterns and identifiable connections from one fingerprint to another. The expert witness becomes necessary when these analyses are unclear or need a professional to explain them. The expert fingerprints may describe the association, the scene or where the fingerprints are specifically.

Connecting Evidence to the Scene

Through the software that discovers the connections between fingerprints and the patters on the finger itself, the experts in analysis are able to associate the person with the scene of the crime. While this does not always work, professionals may need to assess how closely related even partial prints are with the illegal acts. However, the disadvantage of these processes is that only those in the known databases will appear. Any person that has never had his or her fingerprints taken will not appear in the software pattern recognition analysis. For anyone that has never been arrested or worked for the government, he or she may not face the courts.

Suspects connected to the scene may become part of the legal proceedings. The experts that analyze the prints found at the location need to remove anyone associated with law enforcement. Many different individuals will usually appear in the pattern recognition software that looked for evidence and clues at the scene. After removing this group, there are often a few sets still remaining that could help in criminal or civil claims. Pinning the prints on the defendant is possible as long as all legal processes are in strict adherence. Any chain of custody for evidence broken may lead to a failure in the case.

The Chain of Custody

One problem the defense may take advantage of is the chain of custody in evidence. When the fingerprints move from point A to point B, it is possible that corruption of the prints occurs. This could obscure or alter the print itself before analysis with software. Then, the wrong person becomes part of the legal proceedings. This could also point the finger at someone incorrect, and the plaintiffís case becomes impossible to prove when the defendant is not the person at the scene of the crime. Any problems in the chain of custody could lead to failure in the claim.

Testimony Presented by the Expert Witness in Fingerprint Analysis

The expert in the case will discuss and explain what fingerprints represent and how the legal professionals use them to connect a person to the scene. These pieces of evidence are generally only one of many that assist in proving that the defendant is the culprit in the incident. The expert will remove confusion in how the prints really matter and why through the claim the plaintiff should receive compensation. His or her words and demeanor often elicit confidence and strengthen the case.

The expert witness may need to analyze the fingerprints himself or herself to remove doubt of who was at the scene and if the person is responsible for the injury. By testifying about his or her methods in connecting the defendant to the harm, the judge or jury may deliberate with a stronger knowledge of the incident.

Copyright HG.org


While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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