When and when is fingerprint analysis used?

Fingerprints can be used in all sorts of ways:

A person places their thumbprint on a document with their signature to affirm their identity

Fingerprints are especially important in the criminal justice realm. Investigators and analysts can compare unknown prints collected from a crime scene to the known prints of victims, witnesses and potential suspects to assist in criminal cases. For example:

In addition, fingerprints can link a perpetrator to other unsolved crimes if investigators have reason to compare them, or if prints from an unsolved crime turn up as a match during a database search. Sometimes these unknown prints linking multiple crimes can help investigators piece together enough information to zero in on the culprit.

A cell phone held in a hand, with possible location of fingerprint evidence marked with a target symbol

In the absence of DNA, fingerprints are used by the criminal justice system to verify a convicted offender’s identity and track their previous arrests and convictions, criminal tendencies, known associates and other useful information. Officers of the court can also use these records to help make decisions regarding a criminal’s sentence, probation, parole or pardon.

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