The Effective Use of Fingerprint Evidence by Criminal Defence Lawyers

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Fingerprint evidence is a critical piece of many criminal investigations and prosecutions in British Columbia. While fingerprint evidence is generally considered to be extremely reliable, an effective criminal lawyer defending charges in Surrey, Vancouver or elsewhere, may rely on such evidence, or challenge it, in their client’s defence.

The reliability of this evidence is based on the fact that a person’s “friction ridge patterns” (the swirled ridges on their fingertips) stay the same over their lifetimes and no two people (including identical twins) have the same pattern.

Police and prosecutors use fingerprints to identify suspects by comparing prints found at the scene of the crime with prints on file (these prints may have been taken for employment purposes, during prior criminal proceedings, or for other reasons).

The sweat mixed with other body oils and dirt produces fingerprints on smooth surfaces. The visibility of a set of prints depends on the surface they are found on and can be enhanced with powders and laser technology. A reasonably good fingerprint expert can retrieve identifiable prints from most surfaces, including human skin.

Vancouver criminal lawyer, Michael Shapray, of Stern Albert Shapray & Associates recently used fingerprint evidence to prove his client was not at the scene of an alleged crime. The client was arrested in Vancouver and was alleged to have committed a theft and an assault at a well-known retailer in Kelowna, B.C.. The accused consistently denied being in Kelowna on the date in question, or ever having been in the store. We were able to gather evidence that the fingerprints of the suspect arrested at the scene of the crime did not match those of the accused and thus proved that he had not been present. The culprit had falsely provided our client’s name at the time of the arrest, which led to the false charges. The case was dismissed.