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Statement Analysis
 
 

DOCUMENTS AND MATERIALS REQUIRED

 

Original documents are required for examination in most instances, although photocopies can, on occasions be of some value.

 

Often, those holding original documents are reluctant to part with the same even for forensic examination. Undertakings for the safekeeping, preservation and return of documents are regularly prepared.

 

In cases where originals have been lost or destroyed, the examinations may be undertaken on good quality copies but will probably reduce the effectiveness of the process which in turn can lead to a limitation on opinions offered. Clearly certain areas of examination cannot be undertaken on copies, e.g. the examination for impressed or handwritten guidelines (i.e. traced forgeries), assessment of pen pressure variation etc. It should be noted that the presentation of a photocopy does not necessarily mean that an original in the same form has ever existed. Certain examinations of copies can be made which may reveal evidence of photocopy manipulation by way of transposing signatures, letterheads etc. from one (genuine) document onto a subsequent photocopy montage or scanned images lifted from one document and transposed onto a further document.

 

Once the requirements for the examinations are established, a detailed outline of what documentation, comparison signatures, comparison handwritings, typewriting samples etc. will be required can be given and how such samples can be obtained. Lists of potential sources of comparison documentation can be given and, if required, how specimens should be taken or obtained.

 

Documents feature prominently in all manner of business and personal affairs. Almost any type of document may become disputed in an investigation or litigation. For example, a questioned document may be a sheet of paper bearing handwriting or mechanically-produced text such as a ransom note, a forged cheque or a business contract. Or it may be some material not normally thought of as a 'document'. Forensic Handwriting Examiners define the word 'document' in a very broad sense as being any material bearing marks, signs or symbols intended to convey a message or meaning to someone. This encompasses traditional paper documents but also includes things like graffiti on a wall, stamp impressions on meat products, or covert markings hidden in a written letter, etc.

ORIGINALS

Ideally Handwriting Examiners like to look at originals whenever that is possible. Examinations can be made from good quality copies with the opinion qualified that it is based on looking at copies rather than originals. In some cases the strongest opinion cannot be made without looking at original documents. All original documents will be returned.

HOW MANY DOCUMENTS ARE NEEDED?

It is good to have between 12 and 25 signatures for comparison. Some cases require more, and some cases can be determined with fewer. This usually depends on the consistency of the writer and some of the above mentioned factors. Please call so we can discuss your case more thoroughly.

CAN ANY SIGNATURES OR HANDWRITINGS BE USED?

When examining handwriting, Handwriting Examiners prefer to look at handwritings or signatures that are contemporaneous to the document in question. Contemporaneous usually means within one year of the date of the document in question. If we are examining writing of the very young, the very old, the writing of someone ill, or taking medications that might alter the handwriting, the writings might need to be much closer to the time of the questioned writing.

If we are looking at handwriting specimens, it is helpful to compare cursive writing with cursive writing and printing with printing. The writings should contain similar letters, words or groups. It is helpful to look at writing done on similar types of documents. Often it is helpful to have a wide range of types of documents on which there is handwriting or signatures. People often change their writing habits for different types of documents.

QUESTIONED DOCUMENTS

A questioned document is a document whose authenticity is being questioned also called a suspect document.  It may be only part of the document in questioned such as a signature. The writing may not even be on paper such as the case of graffiti, we still refer to it as a questioned document.  A list of the most common questioned documents we help with are listed below: 

Malicious letters, notes or mail

This form of document can be very personal and hurtful if you are the victim. Often written by a disgruntled work colleague, ex-partner or neighbour. You will most likely have one or more suspects. You will need to obtain some examples of your suspects' writing to compare with the questioned document. (Don't forget about the envelopes the document arrives in, these can be helpful) We can find the guilty person by eliminating a group of suspects. When the offender is identified and they are aware you have a report implicating them, they usually stop, even if the Police are not involved.


Forged or questioned signatures 

Often there is a great deal at stake on a signature, you may be facing a large personal loss. Forged signatures are often made by tracing or simulating the genuine signature. We have found forged signatures on cheques, mortgage papers, leases, wills, loans, land registry documents, hire agreements, invoices and many other types of documents. You will need to supply us with at least 6 of your confirmed signatures made around the time of the alleged forgery. This will enable us to determine your natural range of variation in your signature to compare with the questioned signature.

Employee dishonesty, misconduct, harassment and fraud 

This may involve questioned figures or writing on company documents. Forms may have been altered or had figures or text inserted or deleted. Offensive writing may have appeared on time sheets etc. We have provided valuable assistance to personnel managers, human resource officers and investigators. The information we have provided has been the deciding factor in disciplinary procedures.

You have been accused of signing/filling out or altering a document/form but, it wasn't you

This can be very worrying and distressing on a personal level. And often a lot of money or your job is at risk. We have resolved many such cases. You will need to contact us with the details and we will advise you what you need to supply to us to resolve the case.

Did the same person write these documents/letters?

You may wish us to compare different documents to determine if they have been written by the same person. We will be able to assist you with this but please remember if the writing on one of the documents is all in capital letters or all in lower case we will need to compare capitals with capitals and lower case with lower case.

Altered medical records

We are usually able to assist where there are allegations that medical records have been altered.

 Matrimonial and family cases

We are able to help with the disputed writing or signatures of children, or with the disputed handwriting or signatures of partners/former partners.

Graffiti

If you have been the victim of offensive graffiti you will need to take a good photograph of it and sent it to us with your suspect's handwriting for analysis.   Or contact us for arrangement to take the pictures. 

KNOWN DOCUMENTS

By Known Documents we referred to standards or exemplars. Standards are legally admissible authentic samples of handwriting or signatures used for comparison with the questioned writing or signature. The genuineness of the standards must be found to be clear and undisputed or the court may reject them. So when sending in standards please make sure that they will be able to be verified as genuine.

There are two kinds of standards, informal which mean documents previously executed and formal which is request writing.  Standards should ideally have been written reasonably close to the date of the questioned document and where possible of a similar nature, so for example, we can compare contracts with contracts. Where the availability of suitable writing for comparison is limited please send us anything you are able to obtain as we are often able to create a report with limited recourses. It is always advisable to discuss the nature of your documents with us before sending them so we can advise you further.  

Signatures 

Try to get known confirmed signatures made as close to the date of the questioned signature as possible. For an adult in good health this should be within the last 5 years but more recent if possible. If there has been a deterioration in health or quality of life of the person who is alleged to have written the signature and there is a possibility that their illness or old age may have had an effect on their writing which maybe the case in a questioned will, we will need to examine confirmed signatures of that person after they were diagnosed with their illness or their writing began to deteriorate due to old age or infirmity. There is a list of illness or conditions which may effects handwriting and signatures at the bottom of this page.

REQUEST WRITING

Sometimes it is necessary to take request writing from an individual, if insufficient known exemplars are available. Please call me before taking any request writing, so that the job is done thoroughly and correctly the first time.

 

TAKING REQUEST WRITING 

Request Writings are handwriting samples made at the request and under the supervision of solicitors, the police, document examinations and/or investigators for the purpose of comparison with questioned writing.

It is advisable not to use handwriting that has been written specifically for the purpose of examination or comparison as this may detract from the persons' natural handwriting as he/she becomes self conscious or attempts to disguise. However, due to the lack of suitable material for comparison it may be necessary to take request writing from a suspect.

Request Writing Instructions 

Try to duplicate the writing conditions of the questioned document using the same type of writing instrument and type of paper if possible. Check if the writer is suffering from an illness or under the influence of alcohol/drugs and duplicate the wording and numbers of the questioned document. If the questioned document is in upper case make sure the request writing appears in uppercase as well.

To help prevent disguise verbally dictate to the writer rather than let the writer copy the request writing. Be prepared to spend sufficient time with the writer to make sure any disguise cannot be maintained. When dictating your request writing, do so with increased speed, this will hinder any attempt at disguise. I also recommend you attempt to distract and relax the writer as you get him to repeat the request writing a number of times whilst keeping his previous writings hidden from his view.

Make sure you label, sign and date the request writings. If legal action is a possibility it is recommended that a witness also signs the request writings in the presence of yourself and the suspect.   

 


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