Lawyers are interested in the forensic examination of disputed records
for three main reasons: Case value, avoiding client perjury, and due diligence
to the client. Many attorneys are aware that Forensic Document Examiners
can determine the authenticity of a signature and do various examinations
on typewriters (see below) and printed documents. However; many attorneys
are not aware of examinations to detect additions, alterations, or rewritings.
Our laboratory can:
1. Detect an alteration made with a different pen, albeit a color matched ink.
2. Determine the age of a document.
3. Determine the age of a particular ink.
4. Determine when an ink was first commercially available.
5. Determine if additions, alterations, or rewritings of records have occurred, when it happened, who did it, and what pages were replaced.
In a case regarding the record tampering issue to be deemed significant, an addition to a record should have at least one of the following criteria:
1. The intentional concealment of a change that is not clearly noted but takes instrumentation to detect.
2. An addition or change to a critical entry.
3. An entry that was not made contemporaneously with the other entries with no notation of late charting.
4. A pattern of alterations to the critical entries.
5. Testimony is different than the forensic evidence present.
6. The whiting-out, scribbling out or obliteration of an entry.
7. The removal of pages from the records, or expanding the chart with pages created after the fact.
Additions that are made with a color matched ink can usually be detected by the use of an infra-red image converter or possibly an argon or krypton laser. The difference in the ink in this range of light is caused by the different excitation levels in the inks. If the inks are different, one ink may luminesce while the other will not and filters out. This can be captured photographically and makes an excellent court exhibit as shown in figures A through C below, or on closed circuit video.
This is especially important when the questioned entry is the lynch-pin entry in a case. Some signs to look for that may indicate record tampering: 1. Crowded entries. 2. Entries compressed around other entries. 3. Entries made in the margins or along the bottom of the page. 4. Slant, pressure, and uniformity of handwriting. 5. Relative length of questioned entries to other entries in the chart. 6. Unnatural spacing between entries. 7. Entries that shift the blame onto the patient such as pt. refused or non compliant. 8. Differences between what the client says and what the records indicate. 9. Strange notations such as complained of NO chest pain.
We also have the ability to chemically or optically remove obliterating inks, stamps, white out, or factors blocking the reading of a particular entry.
Example of an alteration to a personal check:
Check tendered (with a denomination of $8,000)
Alterations as seen through infra-red, showing alterations in white.
Original check as seen through infra-red image converter
(with denomination of $2,000)
The first row is photographic enlargements of individual keybar damage
patterns from questioned document
The second row contains known samples collected from the suspect's outgoing correspondence file.
The third row is samples taken directly from the suspect's typewriter after repairs were made to conceal damage that was present earlier.
A positive identification was made using the individual damage such as the lower right serif of the "A" and the broken bowl of the "g".
We have the ability to identify the manufacturer and model of the machine which created the questioned typewritten text through our computerized database of over 3000 type fonts. This can be used for two main purposes. The first is to determine if the typing instrument was in existence when the document was allegedly prepared. The second is to narrow the range of possible suspects who could have prepared an anonymous letter or similar document.
Through the use of instrumentation, we are able to detect additions to a typewritten document that were made in a different typing insertion at a subsequent time.