Handwriting and Questioned Documents
Forgeries can be done in several ways. Some are more
easily detectable than others.
One of the most common and probably easiest to detect for a lay person is a blind forgery which is forgery done without a model signature to aid the forger. This is usually the case in petition fraud and anonymous harassing subscriptions as well as many other civil and criminal cases. This type of forgery has the highest success rate in the identification of the forger.
Another method of creating a forgery is when the forger uses a genuine signature as a model and tries to simulate the movements of the victim by slowly and carefully drawing the signature. This is discerned by identifying the individual microscopic handwriting habits which are consistently present in the known signatures of the victim but are absent in the questioned signature. This is due to the inability of the forger to duplicate all the individual handwriting habits of the victim.
A third type of forgery is a tracing which is usually done by carefully tracing a genuine signature onto a document using a window, light-box, or similar device. Stereo-microscopic examination will disclose this type of forgery.
Handwriting and handprinting identifications have been performed since the late 1800's. Since each person's handwriting and handprinting habits are unique, it can be established whether someone wrote a certain word, initials, signature or document. In order to do an accurate comparison with either handwriting, handprinting or signatures, it is necessary to have several known, unquestioned standards. A comparison is then made between the known standards in order to establish that the writings are consistent, replete with individual handwriting habits and identifiable with each other. If all three criteria are met and the questioned writing is contemporaneous to the known standards that are supplied, a positive identification of authorship or non-authorship can normally be made.
Below is an actual court display used to compare printings from known standards to a questioned document. In this instance, a positive identification was made. In some cases if it is not possible to obtain known standards, sample writings may be taken. Most states allow handwriting samples and fingerprint samples to be compelled by court order in both civil and criminal cases. These must be taken in a special manner in order to be usable. Please contact us with any questions about taking these samples.
Comparisons can be made to anonymous letters, notes and other questioned documents with known handwriting from employment files and business documents which are known to have been authored by the suspect. Fingerprints can be dispositive in establishing a determination of responsibility.
Click here for information and assistance in obtaining court appointed fees for criminal defense cases. Contact Speckin Forensic Laboratories today.