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Forensic Science Questioned Documents

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Presentation on theme: "Forensic Science Questioned Documents"— Presentation transcript:

1 Forensic Science Questioned Documents

2 1. Questioned Documents Any object that contains handwritten or typewritten/printed markings whose source or authenticity is in doubt is considered a question document.

3 1. Questioned Documents These include: Letters Checks Driver’s license
Contracts Wills Passports Lottery tickets

4 1. Questioned Documents Questioned documents may also include writings or markings found on walls, windows, doors, etc.

5 Questioned Documents The document examiner must ascertain the authenticity or source of a document through handwriting examination and the use of microscopy, photography, chromatography to note any change or alterations. The examiner must be able to recognize erasures and overwriting in attempt to change the original meaning of a document. The examiner must be able to reconstruct charred or burned paper.

6 15. COMPARISON OF EXPERTS Forensic Document Examiner--involves the analysis and comparison of questioned documents with known material in order to identify whenever possible, the author or origin of the questioned document. Unfortunately, no federal licensing exists. There is certification through the ABFDE. Graphologist--attempts to predict character traits from handwriting examination

7 Handwriting Analysis Handwriting Sample of President George Bush
According to Sheila Lowe in her book, Handwriting of the Famous and Infamous, President Bush’s handwriting is “fast and highly simplified in fairly well-organized writing field”. Is this a forensic document examiner or a graphologist??

8 Related Fields Historical Dating—the verification of age and value of a document or object Fraud Investigation—focuses on the money trail and criminal intent Paper and Ink Specialists—date, type, source, and/or catalogue various types of paper, watermarks, ink, printing/copy/fax machines, computer cartridges Forgery Specialists—analyze altered, obliterated, changed, or doctored documents and photos Typewriting Analysts—determine origin, make, and models Computer Crime Investigators—investigate cybercrime

9 8. Types of Forgery Simulated forgery—one made by copying a genuine signature Traced forgery—one made by tracing a genuine signature Blind forgery—made without a model of the signature

10 Documents Forged Check Fraud Credit Cards
Forgery Counterfeit Alterations Paper Money Identity Social Security Driver’s license Credit Cards Theft of card or number Art—imitation with intent to deceive Microscopic examination Electromagnetic radiation Chemical analysis Contracts—alterations of contracts, medical records

11 Compare Two Checks

12 Forged Check

13 Famous Forgers and Forgeries
Major George Byron (Lord Byron forgeries) Thomas Chatterton (Literary forgeries) John Payne Collier (Printed forgeries) Dorman David (Texas Declaration of Independence) Mark Hofmann (Mormon, Freemason forgeries) William Henry Ireland (Shakespeare forgeries) Clifford Irving (Howard Hughes forgery) Konrad Kujau (Hitler Diaries) James Macpherson (Ossian manuscript) George Psalmanasar (Literary forgery) Alexander Howland Smith (Historical documents)

14 Handwriting Comparisons
Although no two individuals write exactly alike, there may be resemblances is their general style. As a student learns and practices their handwriting, they are making a conscious effort to copy a standard letter form. The two most widely used methods taught in nearly all fifty states in the U.S. are the Palmer method (1880) and the Zaner-Blosser method (1895).

15 Palmer Method Zaner-Blosser Method

16 Handwriting Comparisons
2. Unconscious handwriting of two different individuals can never be identical. Several factors, such as, mechanical, physical, and mental functions, make reproduction of another’s handwriting unlikely. 23. Variations of angularity, slope, speed, pressure, letter and word spacing, relative dimensions, connections, pen movement, writing skill, and finger dexterity are distinguish.

17 23. Characteristics for Comparisons
Line quality – Do the letters flow or are they written with intent strokes? Spacing of words and letters – an average Ratio of height and width of letters Connecting strokes – Are capital letters and lower case letters connected? Unusual letter formations Pen pressure Slant – Left, right, slight or pronounced Baseline habits – Do the letters stay even on the baseline? Placement of diacritics – How are the t’s crossed and the I’s dotted?

18 23. Handwriting Comparisons
Margins, spacing, crowding, insertions, and alignment are personal habits. Spelling, punctuation, phraseology, and grammar individualize each writer. A final conclusion of comparison between two documents must be based on a sufficient number of common characteristics.


20 Jack the Ripper

21 Galileo

22 Signature Comparison

23 Writing Alignment


25 6. Personal Rights The courts consider handwriting to be a personal characteristic (like eye color) therefore: Examples may be obtained before counsel is assigned. Are not a violation of the 4th Amendment (search and seizure) The 5th Amendment does not apply.

26 24. Handwriting Comparisons
Circumstances may prevent a positive conclusion: Insufficient number of known handwriting samples are available Questioned writing may contain only a few words, deliberately written in disguise 3. Drugs and alcohol can alter writing habits

27 5. Collection of Handwriting Exemplars
In gathering known writing samples for comparison, or (4.) exemplars: Known writing should resembled the questioned document Should contain some of the words and combinations of letters present Give the range of natural variations Should be fairly recent, usually within 2-3 years

28 5. Collection of Handwriting Exemplars
When handwriting exemplars can not be obtained for comparison, a voluntary submittal from the suspect is requested. To help minimize attempts at deception, investigators can: Require several pages of writing Writing of dictation Allow the writer to sit comfortably Furnished with pen and paper similar to the questioned document Give no instructions on grammar or punctuation

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