According to the Oakland Tribune, the fingerprint division for the Los Angeles Police Departments is dealing with some serious review work right now. After charges had to be dropped in two criminal cases due to fingerprint analysis mistakes, one analyst was fired and several more disciplined. In an effort to ensure no others have been wrongly accused, the department has ordered the review of 945 cases that used fingerprint analysis.
While the majority of those cases being reviewed didn’t rest solely on fingerprint evidence, there is a potential that other mistakes were made that could change the outcome of cases. People take technology for granted and often forget that even with the use of good technology is used, there is still the potential for mistakes.
Several of the individuals accused of making the mistakes have not been allowed to resume their fingerprinting work and rightfully so. While everyone makes mistakes, this is an area that should remain mistake-free, particularly when a conviction rests on fingerprint evidence alone.
More than just the analysts who erred in their jobs, their supervisors are also being held accountable. Checks and balances should be in place to ensure that the conclusions reached by the fingerprint division are solid and unwavering. These conclusions send people to prison for long terms; this is not a small matter.
Cases typically rest on more than just fingerprint evidence. But even if a plea agreement was arranged, there is no doubt that positive fingerprint identification may have caused the accused to believe they didn’t have a good chance at trial, wrongly pushing them towards accepting a plea that they wouldn’t have otherwise.
A lot of thought and preparation goes into a prosecutor’s case. A defense attorney must believe in their client’s innocence in order to defend them appropriately. When the police department makes a mistake that may cause an innocent person to be tried for a crime, it is a disappointment not only to the accused but to anyone who believes in the integrity of the United States Criminal Justice system.
If you have been wrongly accused and feel the evidence mounting against you, or if you made a mistake and just need to speak with a skilled defense attorney, give us a call and see what we can do for you. We believe the system was meant to work but that highly skilled professionals with faith in the system are required to keep it running seamlessly.