Forensic Handwriting and Document Examination Services
A Forensic Document Examiner may be of assistance by conducting examinations and comparisons of any evidence that may present itself in the form of a document. A document, in its broadest sense, means "any material which contains marks, symbols, or signs, either visible partially visible or invisible, that may convey a message or meaning to someone." Thus, the scope of document examination is not limited to the conventional piece of paper bearing a handwritten signature or note, however, may also include commercially printed documents, typewritten documents, or even markings on lumber or gravestones.
Applied Foreniscs is located in New York, Boston, Washington, DC, Connecticut and North Carolina. The following are some of the services that Applied Forensics' document examiners offer your legal team.
Click each heading to learn more about our areas of expertise.
The bulk of the work submitted to a Document Examiner involves the examination of handwritten or hand printed documents to determine authorship. The known handwriting of one or more suspects is compared with the questioned signature, endorsement, etc., for the purposes of identifying or eliminating a particular writer.
An objective of a typewriter examination is to determine if the typing on a questioned document was executed on a particular typewriter. Definite conclusions can be reached in most cases. Applied Forensics utilizes an extensive computer database to assist in determining the make and model of the suspect typewriter or printout device.
A question sometimes asked of a Document Examiner is to determine if a questioned photocopy was prepared on a particular photocopier. Conclusions can be reached whether the questioned photocopy was ever reproduced on a suspect photocopier. Also, examinations are performed to determine if a questioned photocopy was altered in any manner; i.e. a "cut and paste" comprising several different photocopies.
Indented writing is writing in the form of physical impressions on paper caused by pressure exerted from an instrument used on a document above the one bearing the impressions. Very often this type of examination is used in cases where there is a possible page substitution or cases where the writer is anonymous-as is the case with threat letters.
The designation of "charred” is used in this type of examination since a document that has been burned to a white or gray ash cannot usually be examined because of its unstable nature. Charred documents, however, in a completely blackened state but not as yet fragmented, can often by deciphered with varying results. Success in decipherment is dependent on several conditions: the type of paper used, type. of writing instrument employed, degree of burning, etc. Conclusions in such examinations can range from complete decipherment to negative results, however, partial decipherment of letters, words, or phrases may assist you.
Examinations are conducted to identify similar types of paper by size, ruling, thickness, watermarks, composition, etc. Also, a Document Examiner may determine if a document or a piece of paper originated from a specific source e.g. torn from a writing pad or check book, a stamp being removed from a sheet, etc.
Examinations are conducted to determine the writing media employed (fluid ink, ball point, pencil, crayon) to produce a document, and may be compared with known or suspected media to determine similarities or differences. A particular writing instrument can be eliminated as having been used to execute a document, but can never be identified as the only pen that could have been used to produce the document. Because thousands of pens (usually ball points) contain ink of a common formula, it is only possible to state that the ink from a questioned document has similar characteristics to the ink contained in a suspect pen.
Taken as a group, these examinations can entail the examinations of mail for evidence of tampering, alterations of typewriting or handwriting on contracts, deeds, wills, etc. examinations concerning the “raising” of checks (e.g. altering “two” to "twenty” or "eight” to "eighty”), the erasure of any detail on a check or contract , or an alteration of any description on a document.
Examinations are conducted of rubber stamp and raised seal impressions to determine if they can be associated with a particular rubber stamp or embossing device. It is not always possible to indicate if a single rubber stamp or embossing device is responsible for a particular impression but in many cases there may be sufficient evidence in the impression to arrive at a positive conclusion.
To determine if the check writer impressions on a questioned document were executed on a particular check writer.
Many of the cases submitted to Applied Forensics for analysis require a multi-faceted examination, which is the application of more than one of the examinations listed.
Some of the more common document types submitted include:
- Medical charts
- Business contracts
- Anonymous Letters
- Personal and Business Checks
- Credit cards and receipts
- Real Estate Documents
- Tests and exams
- Account ledgers
- Insurance forms
- Legal Files