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Fingerprint evidence supports firearm offense conviction

Virginia Lawyers Weekly//September 8, 2022

Fingerprint evidence supports firearm offense conviction

Virginia Lawyers Weekly//September 8, 2022

Where appellant’s fingerprint was found on a gun that was several feet away from him on the ground, his conviction for possessing a firearm after conviction of a violent felony is affirmed.


“Appellant maintains that police obtained his identifying information as a result of an illegal search and seizure, and he seeks to suppress a ‘comparative analysis between his fingerprints and other evidence[.]’ …

“During an encounter with police, officers found a firearm on the ground several feet from where appellant had been standing. They seized the firearm and sent it to the state laboratory for analysis. Appellant specifically denied that he had possessed any weapon.

“The police obtained a comparative analysis of a fingerprint found on the magazine of the gun and appellant’s known fingerprint contained in the Central Criminal Records Exchange (CCRE) database. The fingerprint in the CCRE database is necessarily correlated to the identity of the individual from whom it was taken.

“The fingerprint on the gun matched appellant’s fingerprint in the CCRE database. Appellant’s fingerprints and his identification were in the CCRE database well before the instant encounter with the police.”

No Fourth Amendment interest

“Appellant asserts no Fourth Amendment interest in either the firearm on which the fingerprint was found or in the CCRE database. Nor can he, as neither was seized from him during his encounter with the police. Moreover, neither party disputes that the firearm was abandoned.

“Regardless of the lawfulness of appellant’s encounter with the police, any such impropriety does not deprive the government of the ability to prove his guilt through the introduction of evidence that was wholly ‘untainted by [a] constitutional violation.’ …

“A motion to suppress only ‘prevents evidence obtained in violation of the [F]ourth [A]mendment from being used against the accused.’ … As demonstrated, the police obtained no such evidence here. Accordingly, any analysis of the encounter here would be moot, as it is not an issue needing resolution.”


“Under Code § 17.1-410(A), a criminal defendant, if convicted following a pretrial appeal by the Commonwealth pursuant to Code § 19.2-398(A), is not precluded ‘from requesting the Court of Appeals … on direct appeal to reconsider an issue which was the subject of the pretrial appeal[.]”

In a previous phase of this case, Coleman I, the commonwealth appealed the trial court’s pretrial ruling that suppressed the fingerprint evidence. We reversed the trial court’s ruling.

We affirm that decision.

Coleman v. Commonwealth, Record No. 0520-21-2, July 12, 2022. CAV (Haley Jr.) From the Circuit Court of the City of Richmond (Hairston) Melvin L. Todd Jr. for appellant. Lauren C. Campbell, Jason S. Miyares for appellee. VLW 022-7-261, 8 pp. Unpublished opinion.

VLW 022-7-261

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