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Should a fingerprint be enough for a conviction?

| Feb 1, 2021 | The Justice System |

In all legal cases, criminal and civil, evidence is the key to the case. In criminal cases, the prosecution must have sufficient evidence to prove every element of the crime charge “beyond a reasonable doubt.” When the evidence is insufficient to meet this high burden, a case may end in an acquittal or, in the case of one man convicted of robbery 15 years ago, a conviction may be overturned in an appellate court.

Need more than just fingerprints

According to a recent report, the case in question was heard in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. The defendant appealed a robbery conviction that, the reports note, was based almost solely on the fact that the defendant’s fingerprints were proven to be on an envelope that was carried and dropped by the suspect at the scene of the crime. However, the report states there was little else to connect the defendant to the crime, and little to point to the defendant as the suspect who committed the robbery. In the end, the appellate court ruled that those fingerprints on an envelope, and little else, were insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the robbery.

For the defendant in that case, his conviction was overturned. However, the fact that he was convicted in the first place on such little evidence may point to another crucial part of criminal defense strategy: persuasive arguments. Even if the evidence – or lack thereof – is on your side, the defense case needs to be presented in such a way that the trier of fact – a judge or jury – decides that your case is, indeed, the right one.

For criminal defendants in Michigan, everything is on the line. Crafting a sound criminal defense strategy could mean the difference between freedom and years in prison. Getting it right is crucial.