Collecting fingerprints is used by police to help determine who was at the scene of a crime. Fingerprinting examination can include comparing fingerprints at the crime scene or with an existing database. This technical expertise can be an essential part of an investigation.
If fingerprint evidence is a key part of a case the defense can call upon experts to challenge the validity of fingerprint evidence. Establishing if the person was or was not at the scene of the crime or was in a particular position at the scene can have a major impact on the result of the case.
Experts in the field of fingerprinting can also detect fingerprints that would normally appear hidden given they know what to look for and have special equipment available.
Fingerprint examination can also be used in document verification, signature analysis and handwriting identification. These cases often involve forged documents.
Fingerprint examination is part of a larger body of work to determine the responsibility of a crime. They include laboratory blood tests, forensic toxicological examination, and other types of DNA identification.