Expert Article Library

Questioned Handwriting: Document Requirements

By Kenneth John Davies Email: :

As an investigator, attorney, or other individual who may appropriately initiate an examination of questioned handwriting or signatures, you probably have questions. Unless you are already experienced in such matters, or have learned the hard way, getting the right answers to pertinent questions is essential to saving you time, money and potential embarrassment; and, in the end, it may make all the difference to the outcome of your case.

Many questions will arise in the course of any particular case, and this article cannot hope to address all of them. Similarly, I am not going to address legalities here, as they are beyond the scope and purpose of this article. However, there are some questions that are pertinent to any forensic handwriting examination, and their answers are prerequisite to a successful undertaking of such examinations.

The pertinent questions to be addressed here are:

1. "What documents will the expert require ?"
2. "How many documents will be required ?"
3. "In what form should the documents be provided ?"
4. "What are the circumstances / conditions surrounding the documents ?"
5. "Should the documents be examined 'on site' or delivered to the examiner ?"
6. "When is it advisable to have an individual create exemplar handwriting or signatures in my presence; and how, and under what conditions, should I obtain them ?"

Each of the first five questions will be dealt with in turn as they pertain to the two most common categories of forensic handwriting examinations: Examinations for Determination of Authorship or Authenticity; and Examinations for Determination of Alteration.