Fingerprint Evidence: It’s Not Enough to Convict a Defendant

The case of C.P.C. v. State of Florida takes a look at how fingerprint evidence can be used in criminal cases. Undoubtedly, most of us have seen the crime shows and heard stories about how someone’s “fingerprints matched those found at the crime scene.” But what does that really mean? Many prosecutors would like you to believe that such evidence is reliable; however, most Bradenton criminal defense attorneys know that that is not particularly the case.

What Happened In C.P.C.?

C.P.C. was ultimately convicted of grand theft and burglary of a dwelling. According to testimony, an individual’s apartment was broken into via a rear window and it was eventually discovered that a PlayStation 3 and some other electronics were missing from the home. The individual knew C.P.C., who lived in the same complex as the individual. C.P.C. had visited the individual at some point; however, it was said that he was never near the rear window during his visit.

The police found five fingerprints at the bottom of the window pane — three of which belonged to C.P.C. Essentially, there was no additional evidence that C.P.C. had done what he was accused of — only the fingerprints. At trial, C.P.C., during his testimony, stated that he would occasionally gather with friends near the crime scene and he might have leaned against the window at some point.

On appeal, the issue before the court related to whether or not the state had demonstrated when those fingerprints that were discovered at the scene were left on the rear window. The court hearing the appeal threw out the lower court’s conviction, noting that C.P.C.’s fingerprints might have been put on the window long before the crime occurred.

Similar Cases Have Ended With the Same Results

Of course, the C.P.C. case is not the only case in Florida in which a lower court’s decision was overturned based on fingerprint evidence. Another case, C.E. v. State, involved the same type of issue. In this case, someone broke into a police crime scene van. One of the van’s exterior windows was found to have C.E.’s fingerprints.

There was no other evidence as to his guilt except these prints. The court in that case overturned the conviction, stating that because the van was parked in a place that was accessible to anyone and it had been present at other crime scenes before the burglary, the state did not demonstrate that C.E.’s prints were made when the crime was committed, as there were other occasions in which his prints could have been placed on the van.

What Does This Mean for You?

We at the Fowler Law Group want to make sure that an accused individual gets the best defense possible. Skilled criminal defense lawyers know that scientific evidence can be good evidence; however, the timing of that evidence is just as crucial when looking at all relevant facts of a case.

Before physical evidence such as fingerprints and/or DNA can be used in a case, there should be a submission of dating/timing evidence to accompany it prior to such evidence being used to hand down a conviction.

If you or someone you love is facing a conviction based on fingerprint or any other type of scientific evidence, call (941) 900-3100 as soon as possible.

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