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Guidelines for Forensic Document Examination, Part 3

NCJ Number
Forensic Science Communications Volume: 2 Issue: 2 Dated: April 2000 Pages: 1-5
Date Published
April 2000
5 pages
The FBI Laboratory's Scientific Working Group for Forensic Document Examination presents its Guideline for the Examination of Exclusively Questioned Handwritten Item.
The purpose of the guideline is to assist forensic document examiners in determining whether or not two or more questioned handwritten items were written by the same person. The guideline requires that the document examiner 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 guideline's specified procedures. The introduction to the procedures advises that all steps described should be performed when applicable; however, it is not necessary that they be performed in the order given in the guideline. Alternative procedures are indicated depending on decisions made at various stages of the examination. First, it should be determined whether or not all of the writing is original. If it is, it should be determined whether or not any of the writing appears to be distorted. If determined not to be distorted, the writing should be evaluated for the following: type of writing, range of variation of the writing, and the presence or absence of identifying characteristics. Then a side-by-side comparison of comparable portions of the writing should be conducted. An opinion should then be formed and reported. Criteria are presented for coming to the following opinions: identification of one writer, highly probable writings are by one writer, probably one writer, indications of one writer, no conclusion, indications of two or more writers, probably two or more writers, highly probable two or more writers, and the elimination of one writer.