Teardrops for murders. Spider webs for prison time. Penal code numbers for crimes committed.
Criminals have long used tattoos as indelible ink on their own bodily rap sheet. And for just as long, police have used tattoos as a way to identify suspects, a distinguishing characteristic to jog a memory or catch the public's eye.
But only rarely does body art play a pivotal role as evidence posited as proof of wrongdoing.
Prosecutors trying to convict former New England Patriot Aaron Hernandez in a pair of homicide cases could try to use the one-time football star's tattoos against him: they are seeking the artists who worked on Hernandez, saying they could be witnesses.