When Were Fingerprints First Used to Solve a Crime?


Quick Answer

The first documented instance in which a suspect's fingerprint was used to prove their guilt was in 1892, in Argentina. A year before, police official Juan Vucetich began including fingerprints in the files of his investigations.

Continue Reading
When Were Fingerprints First Used to Solve a Crime?
Credit: Alan Levine CC-BY-2.0

Full Answer

Forensic science has come a long way, and the use of fingerprints has been around since 200 B.C., when Chinese records indicate that these distinguishing features could be used to identify criminals. No evidence exists to suggest that the theory was ever put into practice that far back. However, many people chose to use both finger and hand prints as a means of identifying an individual. Existing documents show that in 1858, William James Herschel applied the idea to contracts made with natives of the Indian subcontinent when conducting business. At first it was simply his way of frightening people into making good on their obligations, but it later became standard practice to include thumb and index finger prints on all official documents. Today, fingerprints are just one of the many different tools in the arsenal of law enforcement, and while there is still a statistically small chance that two individuals may have fingerprints that appear the same, it is rare that only one form of forensic evidence is used in a criminal case.

Learn more about Science
Related Videos

Related Questions