Questioned Documents

Questioned Documents
The Questioned Document (QD) Unit at the Forensic Science Laboratory conducts various examinations to determine the authenticity of writings and documents.

Types of Examinations Conducted

  • Handwriting Comparisons
  • Signature Comparisons
  • Typewriting Identification/Comparisons
  • Machine Printer Identification/Comparisons
  • Check Writer Identification/Comparisons
  • Photocopy/Facsimile Identification/Comparisons
  • Alterations/Composite Documents
  • Obliterations/Erasures
  • Writing Instrument Identification/Comparisons
  • Sequencing Identification
  • Indented Writing
  • Watermark and Paper Identification/Comparisons
  • Counterfeit/Forged Documents
  • Charred/Damage Document Restoration/Identification
  • Rubber Stamp Identification/Comparisons
  • Machine/Printer/Copier Analysis

Handwriting and signature comparisons constitute approximately 85% of the QD examinations at the Forensic Science Laboratory. The process of examination in this area generally involves side-by-side comparisons of the questioned writing and known writings of a suspect or victim. Examiners identify similarities and dissimilarities in class and individual characteristics in the writing. These notable similarities and dissimilarities potentially lead examiners to conclusively include or exclude someone as being the author of a particular writing or identify two or more writings as having common authorship.

QD examiners utilize a variety of enhancement tools to conduct their analyses including, highly-sensitive magnifiers, microscopes, alternate light sources, digital imaging equipment and other advanced scientific instrumentation. When unique circumstances arise, the Video Spectral Comparator 2000 is utilized in QD analysis. The Video Spectral Comparator 2000 is one of the most state-of-the-art instruments in the QD industry. This instrument enables document examiners to view documents utilizing various alternate lighting systems e.g., infrared, ultraviolet and similar light filtering systems. The VSC-2000 is most commonly used for: identifying obliterated writings; differentiating inks; identifying alterations to documents; enhancing erasures; enhancing effaced, faded and stained writing; and enhancing deteriorated documents. Similarly, the Electrostatic Detection Apparatus (ESDA) is used exclusively for examination of documents to detect and decipher indented impressions of handwritten entries on paper. Examination of documents for impressions can be helpful in: determining the origin of anonymous letters; linking apparent unrelated documents; sequencing of documents; identifying alterations; and generally providing investigative leads.

The QD Unit has established special requirements and procedures for collecting exemplars for comparisons. Information relating to these requirements and procedures can be made available to our clients upon request. Examiners of the QD Section welcome inquires relating to identifying, collecting and submitting document evidence and we are always available to assist.