Fingerprint evidence could play a crucial role in a Texas criminal trial. Unfortunately, the defendant may face possible conviction even when the evidence is flawed. While fingerprints may be highly recognized examples of evidence, they are not perfect. Commonly cited problems with fingerprint evidence leave some questioning about how valuable prints truly are.
Issues with fingerprint evidence
Juries look at fingerprint evidence as part of their decisions regarding guilt or innocence. The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) issued a report criticizing latent print examiners who claim that fingerprint evidence is 100% accurate.
The AAAS is not the only entity that raised concerns about fingerprint evidence. The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology and the National Research Council issued similar proclamations in the past.
A compelling reason exists why these organizations sound alarms about fingerprint evidence. Fingerprints collected at crime scenes may lead to improper arrests and, worse, wrongful convictions. Investigators continue to collect evidence at crime scenes, and the evidence does factor into criminal cases in which additional evidence points to someone’s guilt. However, history shows that law enforcement may be too quick to convict someone of a crime even when the evidence appears weak.
Evidence and false convictions
Conflicting witness testimony and coerced confessions may lead to someone’s false conviction. Adding “expert” testimony that claims fingerprints recovered at the scene belong to the defendant may further sway a jury. Unfortunately, the jury may come to the wrong opinion based on a collective of flimsy evidence.
An effective criminal defense approach may raise concerns about evidence and its validity. The jury may acquit if the evidence cannot convince them of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Sometimes, the evidence may be so weak that a judge won’t allow it in court. Without enough evidence to convict, a defendant could hear a “not guilty” verdict.