Yes, the State Attorney’s Office can compel a DNA sample, by using a cotton swab to swipe the inside of a defendant’s mouth, or a fingerprint, by literally “rolling the prints in the actual courthouse”. Many times this is difficult to explain as a Tampa criminal defense attorney to our clients based on their perception and observation of television crime dramas. This is often very confusing for folks, who are intimately familiar with the protections provided by the Fifth Amendment, which protects individuals from being forced to incriminate themselves. While everyone is aware that the Government cannot compel an accused to testify against themselves, American Courts have held that fingerprints and DNA samples are non-testimonial.
As we have discussed elsewhere on our Tampa criminal defense attorney blog, there are two types of evidence – testimonial and non-testimonial. Testimonial evidence being those things derived from testimony or statements, while non-testimonial evidence is essentially everything else. The most common examples of non-testimonial evidence are papers/documents, firearms, test results, DNA results, fingerprints, etc. While the distinction is not significant in front of a jury, it is significant when making determining whether it can be compelled by the State Attorney’s Office or not.
Obviously, a positive match between DNA and/or fingerprints from the crime scene and those compelled from a criminal defendant is significant evidence in these matters. It is worth noting though that this is obviously not the end of a criminal case, as there are countless issues with the collection and analysis of scientific evidence. As we have discussed elsewhere on our Tampa criminal defense blog, there are many issues relating to the collection of forensic evidence. Our Tampa criminal defense attorneys have the experience in challenging the collection of scientific evidence required to successfully defend you in your criminal matters.
If you have questions concerning the use of fingerprints or DNA in a Tampa criminal matter, contact the Tampa criminal defense attorneys of Hackworth Law for a free case consultation. We have handled thousands of criminal cases throughout the Tampa Bay Area, including many matters involving the use of fingerprints and/or DNA evidence. If you would like to contact one of our Tampa criminal defense attorneys immediately, please use the “contact us now” tab in the upper right hand corner of our website. We appreciate you taking the time to check out our Tampa criminal defense attorney blog and look forward to working with you.