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Submission FAQ
Friction Ridge

What is the best way to handle latent print evidence/latent lifts?

A: Wearing gloves when working with any latent print evidence is crucial.  Any latent prints of value that are found will be treated as important, so minimizing the amount of latent prints left by people within your agency will allow us to focus on the prints you want to have examined and greatly reduce the amount of time it takes to complete a case.  Latent prints are fragile, so it is important to hold an item where latent prints are least likely to be found.  When lifting prints with tape or a lift, it is best to wear gloves so that the lifter’s prints are not left on the tape.  If the lifter happens to leave prints on the tape, please cross out those prints using an X so that the analyst knows not to examine them.

Should SID/OBTS numbers be included when submitting
cases with subjects?

A: Yes.  In order for us to retrieve and submit the standards needed for comparison purposes, a SID or OBTS number is needed to locate those standards in the BIS system.

Should I submit newly developed subject standards for a
case that has previously been searched in BIS?

A: Yes.  BIS is a search tool and it is possible to search a print in BIS and not hit on a record that is in the system.

Is there a limit to the number of pieces of evidence that can be
submitted for a Latent Print case?

A: Yes, but it depends on the type of case.  For non-violent crimes (Burglary/Vehicle Theft/Fraud), the first submission is limited to 10 items. Subsequent submissions are allowed, with 10 items each, if nothing probative is found on the previous submission. For violent crimes, there is no limit on the number of items submitted. One item is expected to be comprised of one piece of evidence (for example, one latent lift, one digital image, one weapon, or one piece of paper).

Why does some evidence not produce latent prints?

A: There are multiple reasons latent prints may not be left on a surface.  One is the condition of the person’s skin.  If the surface of the skin has no contaminants or there is a barrier between the skin and the surface, then a latent print may not be left.  Another reason is the surface itself.  If the surface is too rough it may not be conducive to prints being left.  The last reason is environmental factors.  Heat, moisture and subsequent touching are just a few examples of these factors that can impact latent prints that are potentially left on a surface.

Are latent prints left every time an object is touched?

A: Not always; condition of the item being touched, the condition of the person’s skin, and the environment all play a role in whether or not a latent print is left behind when an item is touched.

Can latent prints be rubbed off of a surface? If so, how easily
do they rub off?

A: Yes they can.  Latent prints are very fragile, so any subsequent touching after a print is left on a surface may damage the print.  That is why it is crucial to be careful handling any evidence that may have latent prints.

Can I contact an analyst in the Friction Ridge section if I have
a question pertaining to the discipline?

A: We are here to assist Florida agencies in any way we can.  If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to your respective FDLE regional operations center and ask for the section you would like to speak with.

Can I have this (item) examined for DNA and prints?

A: Yes.  If there are areas that the Biology Section does not swab, the Friction Ridge Section can examine the un-swabbed areas for latent prints.  However, if the entire item is being tested in the Biology Section, the surface may not yield any usable prints for the Friction Ridge Section to examine. 

Can I submit standards for comparison even though prints were
already searched in the Biometric Identification System (BIS)?

A: Yes.  The BIS is a search tool, but it is not infallible and may not hit to a record even though it is in the database.  If you have standards, you can submit them to us or provide us with the SID number (State Identification Number) or OBTS (Offender Based Tracking System) number.

Why are some prints stored in the BIS unsolved latent
database and others are not?

A: A print must meet a threshold of encoded minutiae in order for it to qualify for retention in the unsolved latent database.  Prints that do not meet this threshold and are not stored in the unsolved latent database may be searched again later in the BIS if a request is made to the laboratory.

If we have a subject for our case what can we provide your
agency with to help facilitate comparisons?

A: In order to pull fingerprint or palm print standards for a listed subject please provide us with a Florida SID#, OBTS# or an FBI #

Should we process items before submitting them to
the laboratory?

A: If possible, send the evidence in its original condition and let the FDLE Friction Ridge Section process the items.  The FDLE Friction Ridge Section has specialized equipment and a full spectrum of processing techniques.  Allowing FDLE to process will also ensure timely preservation of any developed latent prints, as some techniques fade over time.

I have a subject that I would like latent print evidence
compared to, can you look at this subject?


I forgot to wear gloves when attempting to lift prints,
is that okay?

A: It is always a best practice to use gloves when working with latent print evidence. If you forgot, and left your own prints while attempting to make latent lifts, please cross through the prints that are known to be the lifter’s prints.  This will prevent lifter prints from being searched in the FDLE Biometric System with the potential for a reported identification to the person making the lift.

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