Determining the Authenticity of Questioned Documents, Essay Example

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The Seven Steps to Prevent Conscious Writing:

Allow writer to sit comfortably at a desk, free of distractions

Do not show the questioned Document to the writer

Provide writer with pen and paper that are similar to those used in the questioned document

Dictate a test that includes the same content as that in the questioned document, such as the same words and phrases. The writer should not be given any indication about letter casing

Dictate the text at least three times; repetition will expose efforts by the writer to alter his or her own writing

Collect signature exemplars while collecting writing exemplas; for example, have writer fill out and sign a series of checks

Before testing the writer, have questioned documents examined by a document examiner

Alterations, Erasures, and Obliterations

Questioned documents may show evidence of tampering:

Text may be erased with a rubber eraser or by the use of a chemical agent.

Text may be altered in an effort to change its intent, such as alterations to a will or a check

Text may be blotted out, smeared, written over, or otherwise obscured to hide the content

In some cases Infrared Luminescence may be used to accentuate the visibility of text that has been obliterated with a different ink. An Infrared Electronic Converter can distinguish among different inks, which may be helpful in detecting alterations on a questioned document.

Infrared (IR) Luminescence can also be used to highlight text on a charred document.

Microscopy and the use of IR or Ultraviolet (UV) lighting can help to detect if text has been chemically erased. In some cases, the application of certain solutions or chemicals can be used to restore the remnants of chemically-erased text to visibility

Photocopiers and Printers

Photocopiers and printers use a variety of different methods to create text images on paper. These techniques, as well as the mechanical operation of these devices, can provide insight into the origin an authenticity of questioned documents

Photocopiers generally use a drum bathed in toner to transfer text to the page. After the page is printed, mechanical grabbers pull the paper through the photocopier. The chemical composition of the toner, as well as the marks made by the grabbers, can be used to identify if a questioned document was created by the copier. Other factors, such as scratches on the glass surface of the copier, can leave identifying artifacts on copies, making it easier to correlate a document to a copier.

There are several primary types of printers: the most common are inkjet printers and laser printers; there are also printers that use a dot-matrix system or thermal imaging to print text and images onto documents. As in the case of photocopiers, these devices use techniques, ink types, and other methods that can help identify whether a questioned document originated with an individual printer.

References

Levinson, Jay. Questioned Documents: A Lawyers Handbook. Academic Press, San Diego, CA. 2001.

PPT: Questioned Documents. www.centralia.edu/academics/forensicscience/…/NQD.ppt

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