U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Guidelines for Forensic Document Examination, Part 2

NCJ Number
219856
Journal
Forensic Science Communications Volume: 2 Issue: 2 Dated: April 2000 Pages: 1-9
Date Published
April 2000
Annotation
The FBI Laboratory's Scientific Working Group for Forensic Document Examination presents its Guideline for the Examination of Handwritten Items.
Abstract
The purpose of the guideline is to assist forensic document examiners in determining whether or not two or more handwritten items were written by the same person. The guideline requires that the forensic document examiner will have the following available: a light source of sufficient intensity to distinguish fine detail, an optical instrument capable of sufficient magnification to distinguish fine detail, and sufficient time to complete the procedures of this guideline. The introduction to the procedures advises that all of the steps should be performed when applicable; however, the steps need not be performed in the order given in the guideline. Alternative procedures are specified depending on decisions made at various stages of the examination. First, it should be determined whether or not the examination includes a comparison of questioned writing to known writing or a comparison of questioned writing to questioned writing. If the examination involves a comparison of questioned writing to known writing, then it should be determined whether or not the questioned writing is original writing. If it is original writing, it should be determined whether or not the questioned writing appears to be distorted. If it does not appear to be distorted, it should be determined whether or not the known writing is original writing. If it is original, it should be determined whether or not the known writing appears to be distorted. If not distorted, the questioned writing should be evaluated for the following: type of writing, internal consistency, and range of variation of the writing for each subset or sub-subset. Then an opinion should be formed and reported on, a side-by-side comparison of questioned writing and known writing should be conducted. Finally the guideline presents criteria for arriving at various conclusions based on the findings of the examination. A glossary and 7 references