Is fingerprint printing an invasion of the right of a person in custody?

Nova Scotia, Canada


The following excerpt is from R. v. Murrins, 2002 NSCA 12 (CanLII):

LaForest, J. urged a practical approach to the issue before him: In examining this question one must have a sense of proportion. Is the taking of fingerprints any more serious an invasion of the right of a person in custody than examining the person's body for birthmarks and the like? I do not think so and, as I noted, being arrested and charged for an offence seems to me to be more serious. As Augustus Hand J. stated in United States v. Kelly, 55 F.2d 67 (2nd Cir. 1932), at p. 70: It is no more humiliating than other means of identification that have been universally held to infringe neither constitutional nor common‑law rights. Finger printing is used in numerous branches of business and of civil service, and is not in itself a badge of crime. As a physical invasion it amounts to almost nothing, and as a humiliation it can never amount to as much as that caused by the publicity attending a sensational indictment to which innocent men may have to submit.

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