Fingerprint Evidence in Criminal Cases explained by Broward Criminal Defense Attorney
Fingerprint evidence is perhaps the most universally accepted scientific evidence at trial, although such evidence is not conclusive unless coupled with other evidence indicating that the fingerprint was impressed at the time of the crime. As one criminal court suggested recently in Fort Lauderdale, "Only if the circumstances regarding the fingerprint show that the accused was at the scene of the crime at the time the crime was committed, may one rationally infer that the accused committed the crime."
Fort Lauderdale law enforcement officials routinely fingerprint suspects arrested for a felony or a serious misdemeanor. But when a suspect is not subject to arrest, Hayes v. Florida condemned the involuntary removal of a suspect from his home to a police station, and detention there for fingerprinting and interrogation. Criminal lawyers must be aware that the Supreme Court held that "transportation to and investigative detention at the station house without probable cause or judicial authorization together violate the Fourth Amendment." The Court indicated, however, that the Fourth Amendment would permit seizures for the purpose of fingerprinting if police have reasonable suspicion and if the fingerprinting procedure is "carried out with dispatch." Although a stop and frisk is a commonplace police procedure, police departments have not rushed to follow the Court's suggestion to utilize brief "stop and fingerprint" encounters with suspects.