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CRIM 355 (15)
Chapter 17

CRIM 355 Chapter 17: Document Examination

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Simon Fraser University
CRIM 355
Gail Anderson

CHAPTER 17: DOCUMENT EXAMINATION  Questioned document: any document about which issue has been raised or that is the subject of an investigation  May also include writings/other markings found on walls, windows, doors, or any other objects  Document examiner must know how to use the techniques of microscopy, photography, and analytical methods to uncover all efforts designed to change the content/meaning of a document HANDWRITING COMPARISONS  No two individuals write exactly alike  The early stages that accompany the learning + practicing of handwriting are characterized by a conscious effort on the part of the study to copy standard letter forms  Handwriting is unique it’s executed freely and frequently; there is a reasonable amount of writing  Writing is a semi-conscious habit and it’s hard to change/disguise  Class characteristics  Copy book: all children learn the same style of writing  Individual characteristics  Every person has an individual perception of different images  Children often incorporates writing features from people of influence in their lives combined  Combined characteristics makes handwriting unique Variations in Handwriting  Unconscious handwriting of 2 different individuals can never be identical  Individual variations associated with mechanical, physical and mental functions make is unlikely that all these factors can be exactly reproduce by two different people  Variations are expected in angularity, slope, speed, pressure, letter and word spacing, relative dimensions of letters, connections, pen movement, writing skills, and finger dexterity  Margins, spacing, crowding, insertions, and alignment are results of personal habits Challenges to handwriting comparison  Circumstances may prevent a positive conclusion/may permit only the expression of a qualified opinion  Develop when an insufficient number of known writing are made available for comparison  When examiner receives questioned writings containing only a few words: all deliberately written in a crude, unnatural form/very carefully written to disguise the writer’s natural style  Often encountered in threatening/obscene letters  Writing habits may be altered beyond recognition by the influences of drugs/alcohol Collection of Writing Exemplars  Exemplars: authentic sample used for comparison purposes (ex. Handwriting)  Styles and habits may be altered if a person switches from a pencil to a ballpoint pen/fountain pen  Known writings should contain some of the words and combinations of letters present in the questioned document  Science based comparisons; must have comparison samples  Collected samples are normal writings from everyday life  Naturally written, broad range of natural variation  Difficult to prove authorship, unlikely to contain same text as questioned document  Requested samples need to be obtained under a warrant and it’s written under police supervision  Authorship witnessed, text can be duplicated  May try to disguise writing, restricted range of natural variation, not natural due to nerves, may not be contemporary  Natural variations: normal deviations found between repeated specimens of an individual’s handwriting or any printing device  No two writing specimens prepared by one person are even identical in every detail  A signature forged by tracing an authentic signature can often be detected even if the original and tracing coincide exactly because no one ever signs two signatures exactly alike  Usual and normal deviations that occur within repeated specimens of a person’s handwriting  Ex. No two signatures are ever the same – if it’s the same then it
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