Forensic document analysis is employed to examine any form of questioned document to help establish the author(s), to identify any alterations and to help establish the origin. Questioned documents can include legal documents such as wills, cheques, threatening letters, suicide notes and any form of letter or note relating to criminal activity.
Handwriting on a particular document can be compared against reference samples of handwriting from a known individual. This can help establish whether or not the documents have been written by the same author and whether a natural or disguised hand has been used. Comparison of a signature on a document against known signatures can establish whether it is genuine or has been forged.
Documents such as wills and cheques can also be altered in an attempt to commit fraud. Not only would the handwriting itself be examined to establish the author, but the document would also be examined for the use of different inks, or in the case of word processed documents, additional or altered content.
When a document is hand written, indentations may be left on paper that was lying underneath the topmost sheet, for example, on subsequent pages of a note pad. It is possible to reveal this indented writing using a technique known as ESDA, which may provide valuable intelligence information.
Document analysis is often carried out in conjunction with other examination types, particularly fingerprint analysis, where the presence of fingerprints from a named individual can be evidentially significant.
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