fingerprint analysis

Reports Question Accuracy of Fingerprint Analysis

By Joel Hancock

For more than 100 years it has been accepted that finding someone’s fingerprints at the scene of a crime means that they were in fact there. However, according to new research, this may or may not be the case. Per the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), fingerprint analysis may not be as reliable as it has long been held to be. 

Insufficient Data

According to a 2017 report released by the AAAS, it is true that our fingers have distinct patterns, which can be used to identify people. However, also according to the report, there is insufficient data to determine just how unique our fingerprints are among the world’s entire population. Therefore the weight given to fingerprint analysis may be overemphasized. 

The AAAS is not the only organization to come to this conclusion. Other reports, such as those conducted by the National Research Council and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, have found similar results.

Just How Much Can We Rely Upon Fingerprint Analysis?

While fingerprint analysis has been widely accepted as very reliable, there are criminal cases in which these findings may have led to false arrests and convictions. There are a variety of factors that could affect the outcome of the examiner’s analysis. For example, simply knowing that the fingerprint analysis is part of a test could impact the examiner’s findings. Unfortunately, automated systems also have their own set of limitations, making them no more reliable at this point. 

Because of these findings and a number of findings just like them, it’s reasonable that if the prosecution’s case rests largely on fingerprint analysis, that it may be part of one’s criminal defense strategy to challenge the reliability of that analysis. As we continue to move forward, additional measures must be put in place to make fingerprint analysis more reliable – or else it risks losing its credibility altogether. 

Contact Our Carteret County Criminal Defense Attorney

A criminal conviction in North Carolina can have a very long-lasting impact on your life. Not only can it affect your ability to obtain or keep certain jobs, but also it can have a permanent impact on your reputation. That’s why it is in your best interest to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. He or she may be able to challenge the reliability of fingerprint analysis involved, which if largely relied upon may diminish the prosecution’s case for proving to a judge or jury that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. 

At Hancock Law Firm, PLLC, we fully understand what is at stake and will do everything that we can to help you fight these charges and obtain the best possible outcome for you. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today!

About the Author
Joel Hancock is a native of Carteret County, NC. He devotes 100% of his practice to defending those accused of traffic infractions, DWI, misdemeanors, and felonies in Carteret County, NC.