Yes, police can get fingerprints off paper. They can use a variety of methods to do this, including dusting the paper with powder or using a special scanner. If the fingerprints are clear and visible, the police can usually get a good match.
Michael Grimm, a fingerprint examiner at the Virginia Bureau of Forensic Science laboratory in Roanoke, stated that while it is difficult to remove fingerprints from currency, it is quite simple to remove fingerprints from common paper. Grimm stated, “Most paper has a porous surface, making it easier to remove prints.”
How long do fingerprints stay on paper?
Fingerprints can last on paper for a very long time, as latent prints. In fact, they can last for years if the paper is not exposed to too much light or heat. However, if the paper is exposed to these things, the fingerprints will eventually fade away.
According to the MSHP “There is no scientific way to know how long a latent fingerprint will last. Fingerprints have been developed on surfaces that had not been touched in over forty years; yet not developed on a surface that was handled very recently. There are a multitude of factors that effect how long fingerprints last. Some include the type of surface touched; the individual who touched it, and environmental conditions can have serious bearing on how long a fingerprint will last on a surface.”
Is it Possible to Remove a Fingerprint from Paper?
A fingerprint is an individual’s specific pattern of ridges and valleys on the surface of their skin. Paper surfaces are not as smooth as skin, so when a person touches paper, their fingerprint leaves a print.
It is possible to wipe away a fingerprint from a paper surface, but the print may become smudged and unidentifiable. If the paper is dry, it may be possible to detect the fingerprint using forensic science. Forensic scientists can use ultraviolet light to make fingerprints visible and identifiable on documents.