Fingerprint technology has come a long way since the days when detectives had to wait months for laboratories to return fingerprint comparisons from crime scenes. From a criminal defense standpoint, the lack in immediate forensic results by way of fingerprinting acted as a double edge sword depending on the results of the analysis and whether or not such evidence would be available at trial.
Criminal defense attorneys remind us that it wasn’t unheard of for fingerprint comparisons to arrive after criminals had been arrested, tried, and convicted based on evidence other than their fingerprints.
Sometimes, defendants in Broward County criminal cases had actually served their time in jail when detectives received a positive match from the labs. It was a very slow and tedious process to examine individual fingerprints and then compare them to hundreds of possible suspects.
Today, in Broward County Florida, fingerprinting has moved into the world of computer technology. With the 1999 inception of the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS), prints can be compared to a database of thousands of fingerprints in mere seconds. Now, it’s possible for investigators to learn the identity of a criminal suspect on the same night he committed a crime, possibly preventing him from continuing a potentially dangerous crime spree. Such immediate data also assists in eliminating potential suspects and effectively prevents the arresting of innocent Broward County citizens.