Forensic document examination is a complex forensic science encompassing a wide range of examinations involving handwritten and non-handwritten items. Handwritten items include handwriting, hand printing, and signatures. The analyst uses a magnifier or a stereo-microscope to determine whether or not the questioned writing and the known writing share the same combination of individual characteristics and range of variation. The comparison allows the analyst to determine whether the text on the questioned and the known documents was written by one writer or more than one writer. The Unit does not determine personality profiles based on handwriting.
Non-handwritten items can be associated with their source and include documents generated from printers, typewriters, photocopiers, and mechanical devices such as rubber stamps and embossing machines. The examination of non-handwritten items can resolve questions concerning the document’s age, origin, content, or authenticity.
Deciphering typewriter and printer ribbons, recovering indented text, reconstructing torn or shredded documents, and dating watermarks are additional examinations conducted in the Questioned Documents Unit.
The unit is equipped with microscopes, cameras, and an electrostatic detection apparatus (ESDA) to detect indented writing. Questioned document examiners prepare visual aids for court displays and testify in court when required.