QUESTIONED DOCUMENTS : FORGERIES

Questioned document examination:

Questioned document examination (QDE) is known by many names including forensic document examination, document examination, diplomatics, handwriting examination, and sometimes handwriting analysis, although the latter name is not often used as it may be confused with graphology. Likewise a forensic document examiner is not to be confused with a graphologist, and vice versa. The questioned document division of a crime lab is sometimes referred to as "QD" in popular media.

The task of forensic document examination is to answer questions about a disputed document using a variety of scientific processes and methods. Many examinations involve a comparison of the questioned document, or components of the document, to a set of known standards. The most common type of examination involves handwriting wherein the examiner tries to address concerns about potential authorship.

One task of a forensic document examiner is to determine if a questioned item originated from the same source as the known item(s), then present their opinion in court as an expert witness. Other tasks include determining what has happened to a document, determining when a document was produced, or deciphering information on the document that has been obscured, obliterated or erased.

Scope of document examination

Forensic document examiner is intimately linked to the legal system as a forensic scientist. Forensic science is the application of science to address issues under consideration in the legal system.

In Canada and the United States, common criminal charges involved in a document examination case fall into the "white-collar crime" category. These include forgery, counterfeiting, fraud, or uttering a forged document. However, documents may be important in many other contexts.

A forensic document examiner deals with items that form part of a case which may or may not come before a court of law. The many types of possible examinations are as follows:

What sort of documents are examined?

Documents feature prominently in all manner of business and personal affairs. Almost any type of document may become disputed in an investigation or litigation. For example, a questioned document may be a sheet of paper bearing handwriting or mechanically-produced text such as a ransom note, a forged cheque or a business contract. Or it may be some material not normally thought of as a 'document'. Forensic document examiners define the word "document" in a very broad sense as being any material bearing marks, signs or symbols intended to convey a message or meaning to someone. This encompasses traditional paper documents but also includes things like graffiti on a wall, stamp impressions on meat products, or covert markings hidden in a written letter, among other things.

Some forensic document examiners limit their work to the examination and comparison of handwriting, but most of the forensic document examiners inspect the whole document.

Historical cases

Although the crimes were committed some time before the discipline of document examination was firmly established, the letters of the Jack the Ripper case have since been examined in great detail.

Candidacy

A person who desires to enter a career of forensic document examination must possess certain traits and abilities. First and foremost, excellent eyesight is required in order to see fine details that are otherwise inconspicuous. The aspirant must also pass a form blindness test in order to ensure that the aspirant does not suffer from the condition of being unable to tell apart two similarly-appearing, yet different, items. Similarly successful completion of a test for color perception is normal. A bachelor of science degree is also typically required, as it gives the aspirant a scientific background with which to approach the work in an objective manner, as well as bestowing necessary biological, physical, and chemical knowledge sometimes called upon. ASTM Standard E2388-05 (Standard Guide for Minimum Training Requirements for Forensic Document Examiners) has "an earned baccalaureate degree or equivalent" as one of several requirements. Additional desirable skills would include knowledge of paper, ink, printing processes, or handwriting.

Training

There are three possible methods of instruction for an aspiring document examiner:

  1. Self-education is the way in which the pioneers of the field began, as there was no other method of instruction.
  2. Apprenticeship has become the widespread manner in which many examiners are now taught. In fact, this is the method that is recommended by ASTM in Standard E2388-05. To conform with the ASTM standard such training "shall be the equivalent of a minimum of 24 months full-time training under the supervision of a principal trainer" and "the training program shall be successfully completed in a period not to exceed four years".
  3. College and/or university programs are very limited at this time. This is due, in part, to the relatively limited demand for forensic document examiners. It also relates to the need for extensive practical experience; particularly with respect to handwriting examination. It is difficult to include this degree of practical experience in a normal academic program. Nonetheless, a few academic programs directly related to forensic document examination are:
    1. Universidad Autonoma de Barcelona (Catalua,Espaa)
    2. Oklahoma State University Grad Program in Forensic Science
    3. L'Universit de Lausanne Institut de Police Scientifique (Lausanne, Switzerland)
    4. University of Lancashire, MSc in Document Analysis (Lancashire, UK)
    5. Institut fur Schrift- und Urkundenuntersuchung (Manheim, Germany

A more extensive listing relating to forensic training may be viewed at the website for the Canadian Society of Forensic Science

A forensic document examination trainee must learn how to present evidence before the court in clear, forceful testimony. Fledgling examiners in the later stages of training can get a glimpse into the legal process as well as a better sense of this aspect of their work through participation in a mock trial or by attending actual court hearings to observe the testimony of qualified examiners.

Examination

The examination of handwriting to assess potential authorship proceeds from the principle of identification which can be expressed as: "Two writings are the product of one person if the similarities, when taken in combination, are sufficiently individual and there are no fundamental unexplainable differences."

There are three stages in the process of examination. In brief, they are:

  1. The questioned and the known items are analyzed and broken down to directly perceptible characteristics.
  2. The characteristics of the questioned item are then compared against the known standard.
  3. Evaluation of the similarities and differences of the compared properties determines which ones are valuable for a conclusion. This depends on the uniqueness and frequency of occurrence in the items.

ASTM Standard E2290-03 (Standard Guide for Examination of Handwriting) outlines the procedure followed by most reputable examiners. Another method is provided online by the Forensic Expertise Profiling Laboratory (School of Human Biosciences, La Trobe University, Victoria, Australia). The method is divided into 11 modules which may be accessed via the FEPL website.

Common tools of the trade

Professional organizations

Links provided below

  • American Society of Questioned Document Examiners (ASQDE) - USA
  • American Academy of Forensic Science (AAFS) - USA
  • Australasian Society of Forensic Document Examiners (ASFDE) - Australia/Asia
  • ASOCIACIN PROFESIONAL DE PERITOS CALGRAFOS DE CATALUA (Espaa)
  • Canadian Society of Forensic Science (CSFS) - Canada
  • Southwestern Association of Forensic Document Examiners (SWAFDE) - Southwest USA
  • Southeastern Association of Forensic Document Examiners (SAFDE) - Southeast USA
  • Forensic Science Society (FSS) - United Kingdom
  • International Association for Identification (IAI)
  • Gesellschaft fr Forensische Schriftuntersuchung (GFS) - Frankfurt (Germany)
  • National Association of Document Examiners (NADE)
  • Association of Forensic Document Examiners (AFDE)

ABFDE ~ Certification

A document examiner may be certified by the American Board of Forensic Document Examiners, Inc. (ABFDE), which was formed in 1977 with a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice. The ABFDE is one of two bodies recognized by the Forensic Specialties Accreditation Board, Inc (FSAB) to carry out certification of forensic document examiners. To date, there is no federal licensing involved in the discipline. However, the court has recognized the ABFDE as reputable in the case of U.S. v. Buck, 1987, in denying a motion that claimed that handwriting comparisons were unreliable.

An applicant to the ABFDE for certification must meet the following requirements:

  • they must be of good moral character, high integrity and good repute; and possess high ethical and professional standing
  • the program is limited to permanent residents of the USA, Canada and Mexico
  • must possess a bachelor degree (or higher) from an accredited academic institution, or equivalent
  • must successfully have completed a full-time training program of at least 2 years duration in a forensic laboratory recognized by the Board
  • must provide three references from forensic document examiners certified or recognized by the Board
  • must be actively engaged in the full-time practise of forensic document examination and
  • must demonstrate a record of appropriate professional activity in forensic document examination

In addition to meeting the basic requirements listed above, an applicant must also pass comprehensive written, practical and oral examinations that explore the wide range of problems encountered in document examination.

Certificates issued by the ABFDE are valid for five years, and can be renewed. During that five-year renewal period, the diplomate must earn at least 40 continuing education credits. Credits are awarded for a variety of related activities, such as attendance and participation at ABFDE recognized forensic meeting and programs, and publication of articles in journals recognized by the Board. Individuals holding a valid Certificate of Qualification issued by the ABFDE will use the designation "Diplomate of the American Board of Forensic Document Examiners."

ABFDE History John J. Harris sat as the inaugural chairman in 1977, and in the following year, the Committee of Certification was created. The board states its objectives as to establish, maintain and enhance standards of qualification for those who practice forensic document examination, and to certify applicants who comply with ABFDE requirements for qualified specialists.

Backed by the American Society of Questioned Document Examiners (ASQDE), Canadian Society of Forensic Science (CSFS), and the American Academy of Forensic Science (AAFS), the ABFDE ensures that the applicant satisfies a number of standardized requirements with regular testing to ensure that the examiner performs at the same high level of professionalism, as do the other people in the trade. More-so than merely denoting the attainment of certain academic and minimum standards, board certification indicates that the examiner cares enough about the profession to spend time and effort to adequately prepare himself or herself to properly serve the public. Courts must assess the credibility of the document examiner as an expert witness and to do this they will often rely upon the examiners reputation in the profession together with his or her affiliations with credible professional organizations.

References ~ Literature

The literature relating to forensic document examination is very extensive. Publications in English, French, German and other languages are readily available. The following is a very brief list of accepted, English-language textbooks:

  1. Osborn, A.S. (1929). Questioned Documents, 2nd ed. Albany, New York: Boyd Printing Company. Reprinted, Chicago: Nelson-Hall Co.
  2. Harrison, W.R. (1958). Suspect Documents: Their Scientific Examination. New York: Praeger.
  3. Conway, J.V.P. (1959). Evidential Documents. Illinois: Charles C Thomas.
  4. Hilton, O. (1982). Scientific Examination of Questioned Documents. New York: Elsevier Science Publishing Co.
  5. Huber R.A. & Headrick A.M. (1999). Handwriting Identification: Facts and Fundamentals. Boca Raton: CRC Press.
  6. Ellen, D. (2005). Scientific Examination of Documents: Methods and Techniques, Third Edition. Boca Raton: CRC Press.
  7. Morris, R. (2000). Forensic Handwriting Identification: Fundamental Concepts and Principles. Academic Press.
  8. Levinson, J. (2001). Questioned Documents: A Lawyer's Handbook. San Diego: Academic Press.
  9. Koppenhaver, K. (2007) Forensic Document Examination, Principles and Practice Humana Press.
  10. Kller N., Nissen K., Rei M. & Sadorf E.: Probabilistische Schlussfolgerungen in Schriftgutachten/ Probability Conclusions in Expert Opinions on Handwriting, Luchterhand, Munchen (2004) available online in German & English:

External links


Characteristics of forgeries, Obliteration, Alterations and Erasures
FORGERIES MAY BE COMMITTED BY WRITING BIG PENCIL OR PEN BY TYPE WRITTEN MATTER BY PRINTING , OR BY ENGRAVING , BY ERASING OR ALTERING THE CONTENTS OF A DOCUMENT OR BY OBLITERATING THE ORIGINAL WRITING , ETC.

Types Of Forgeries.

FOR THE PURPOSE OF THE SUBJECT OF IDENTIFICATION AND COMPARISON OF SIGNATURES AND WRITINGS FORGERIES MAY BE CLASSIFIED AS :

1.Free hand forgery

IN THIS TYPE OF FORGERY , THE FORGER SELECTS A MODEL SIGNATURE OR WRITING AND HE TRIES TO COPY THE DESIGN OF LETTERS AND OTHER BROAD FEATURES DEPENDING UPON HIS SKILL, PRACTICE, AND COMPETENCY.

2.Traced forgery

AS THE NAME INDICATES TRACE FORGERY IS PREPARED BY DRAWING THE OUT LINE OF A GENUINE SIGNATURE BY THE PROCESS OF TRACING.

3.Forgery by memory

IT REFERS TO THE SIGNATURE OR WRITING PREPARED FROM THE MATERIAL FROM THE MENTAL IMPRESSIONS OF FORMS AND LETTERS OF THE SIGNATURES OR WRITING PREPARED FROM THE MENTAL IMPRESSIONS OF THE FORMS OF LETTERS OF THE SIGNATURES OF THE ACTUAL WRITER AND WITHOUT ANY MODEL SIGNATURE OR WRITING BEFORE THE FORGER AT THE TIME OF FORGERY.

4.Forgery by Impersonation

WHEN A PERSON MERELY WRITES / SIGNS THE NAME OF ANOTHER PERSON IN HIS OWN HAND WRITING IN NORMAL MANNER OR IN SOME MODIFIED MANNER, REPRESENTING HIMSELF TO BE THAT PERSON WITH SOME ULTERIOR MOTIVE, SUCH SIGNATURE IS A FORGERY

Identification of forger

WHEN AN EXPERT OPINES THAT A PARTICULAR SIGNATURE IS A FORGED SIGNATURE HE IS OFTEN ASKED TO ANSWER THE QUESTION “ WHO FORGED IT” ??IN ANY FORGERIES A FORGER TENDS TO LEAVE HIS OWN HAND WRITING HABITS TO LINK HIM WITH THE FORGERY IN THE PROCESS, HOWEVER, THE FORGER MAY LEAVE FEW ELEMENTS OF HIS OWN HABITS IN THE FORGED SIGNATURE WHICH HELPFUL TO PIN POINT HIM.

Alteration

ANY CHANGE WHICH GIVES THE DOCUMENT A DIFFERENT EFFECT FROM THAT WHICH IT ORIGINALLY POSSESSED IN TERMED AS ALTERATION.
IF THE CHANGE IS MADE AFTER EXECUTION OF A DOCUMENT AND WITHOUT THE CONSENT OF THE OTHER PARTY THAN SUCH CHANGES IS CALLED FRAUDULENT ALTERATION. THE ALTERATION MAY BE CAUSED BY THE ADDITION, ERASURE, OBLITERATION, CANCELLATION, INTERLINKING OR SUBSTITUTION E.T.C

Obliteration

TO OBLITERATE MEANS TO BLAUGHT OUT SO AS NOT BE READILY OR CLEARLY READABLE.
AN OBLITERATION MAY BE EITHER INTENTIONAL OR UNINTENTIONAL. WRITING MAY BE INTENTIONALLY OBLITERATED TO RENDER THEM INDECIPHERABLE BY COVERING OR OBSCURING WITH MARKING, OVERWRITING, BLOTS OF INK OR RUBBING WITH PENCIL OR CARBON PAPER E.T.C

Erasures

ERASURE CAN BE BASICALLY DIVIDED IN TO TWO GROUPS :

1. Physical erasures

PHYSICAL REMOVAL OF WRITING, IMPRESSIONS OR PART THERE OF MAY BE ACCOMPLISHED BY THE ABRASION OF THE SURFACE OF PAPER WITH THE HELP OF RUBBER ERASURE OR SHARP INSTRUMENTS SUCH AS RAZOR BLADES, SCALPER, KNIFE OR EMORY PAPER E.T.C

2.Chemical erasures

ARE THOSE IN WHICH SOME CHEMICALS IS USE TO ERASED SOME WRITTEN DOCUMENT FOR HIS/ HER PURPOSE .
THEY MAY BE ACIDS OR ALKALIES AS OXALIC ACID , POTASSIUM PERMANGANATE ,ETC.
THE CHEMICAL TESTS SHOULD NEVER BE APPLIED ON THE DOCUMENT IT SELF. THE BETTER WAY IS TO PUNCH OUT SMALL DOTS OF PAPER FROM THE AFFECTED AREA WITH THE HELP OF HYPODERMIC NEEDLE AND TEST THEM ON MICROSCOPE SLIDE .


QUESTIONED DOCUMENT:

(BY- Mr. Sujoy Mitra, Amity University)

Handwriting

 Handwriting is an acquired skill and clearly one that is a complex perceptual motor task, sometimes referred to as a neuromuscular task.

Skilled writing movements are so commonplace that one is inclined to overlook their complexity. Without exaggeration, however writing is one of the most advanced achievements of the human hand.

The hand is an extremely complex and delicate mechanism, containing some twenty-seven bones controlled by more than forty muscles.  Most of the muscles are situated in the lower arm and connect to the fingers by an intricate set of tendons.  Their ability in manipulating a writing instrument is precisely coordinated by a timing system under a neural control of movements of the arm, the hand, and the fingers.  The precise ordering and timing of the movements determines the structure of the pattern i.e., recorded with the pen or pencils.

The development of writing is complex because, it is, in part, culture dependent, and cultures differ with locales and undergo constant change.  The evidence of this dependence in manifesting in class, system, or national characteristics. 

Writing is a continuous or flowing task, not one of discrete or separated actions.  There are apparent interruptions at word boundaries, but in many cases the pen movement may be continuous and uninterrupted, although not recorded as an inked line.

A feature of skill performance, and certainly of handwriting, is that it involves the movement occurs at its proper time and place in the sequence.  The particular pattern of these movements constitutes the habitual aspects of writing that are peculiar to each individual.  The fact that, with practice and skill, the execution of writing habits becomes more automatic renders the writing process less subject to conscious control.

 *1.    Huber, A. Roy; Headrick, M.A (1999) Handwriting Identification: facts and fundamentals; CRC press ltd.

 Handwriting identification

             There are two fundamental fields of study pertaining to handwriting:

 1.                  The study of handwriting as a neuromuscular activity, its development as a skill and the effect upon it of various and external factors.

2.                  The study of handwriting identification as a discriminatory process.

             Handwriting identification is a discriminatory process that derives from the compression of writing habits and an evaluation of significance of their similarities or differences.

             What has been commonly and frequently referred to characteristics or writing features, or qualities are simplified manifestations of the habits formed.  They are the discriminating elements of handwriting. 

             Writing characteristics have been commonly described as being of one of two types: class characteristics (the products of prescribed writing systems) and individual characteristics (the particular idiosyncrasies of the individual).  Class characteristics were seen in predominant writing system but the current move of the many more excellence of modern writing, class characteristics are progressively less discernible and identifiable in the inscription of present day writers.  The individual characteristic is a large combination of handwriting system. 

 *1.    Huber, A. Roy; Headrick, M.A (1999) Handwriting Identification: facts and fundamentals; CRC press ltd.

  Process of underlying identification

 

            The careful and systematic use of evidence, which is common to the many disciplines of forensic science, is directed toward the identification of an unknown.  The process involves three distinct steps or stages:

 

1.                  Analysis or discriminating element determination: The unknown item and the known items must, by analysis, by examination or study, be reduced to a matter of their discriminating elements.  These are the habits of behavior or of performances that serve to differentiate between products or people, which may be directly observable, measurable or otherwise perceptible aspects of the item.

2.                  Comparison:  The discriminating element of the unknown, observed or determined through analysis, examination or study, must be compared with those known, observed, or recorded of the standard items.

3.                  Evaluation:  Similarities or dissimilarities in discriminating elements will each have a certain value for discrimination purposes, determined by their cause, independence, or likelihood of occurrence.   The weight or significance of the similarities or the difference of each element must then be considered and the explanation for them proposed.

 

Accordingly, we would suggest five respects in which a signature, or a writing, may be judged to rate its intricacies or complexity:

   1.                  The aggregate line length:  Generally speaking, the longer the line, the more complex the design, there are of course some stylist signature that contain length of strokes of no purpose.  We are not referring to this.

2.                  The number of pronounced directional changes in the line:  When directional changes are angles in the vicinity of 180 they constitute retraces.  When less than 90 they may be departure in straight-line movement or commencement of curves.  If not the directional changes in writing will be due simply to allograph design.

3.                  The number of overwriting: Overwriting can be misleading stroke direction, and thus confusing as to allograph construction.  These are two types retracing and superimposition. We define retracing as a line situated over another line, but is generated by pen motion in the opposite direction.  A superimposition define a line situated over another line and is generated by pen motion in the same direction.

4.                  The continuity of the pen movement:  It is based on continuation of pen, pen lift, pen pause, etc. 

5.                  The repetition of well segregated, complex pen motion:  Fluent and complex pen motion can be executed with ease but only when natural or practiced.

  *1.    Huber, A. Roy; Headrick, M.A (1999) Handwriting Identification: facts and fundamentals; CRC press ltd.

 Class characteristics

The handwriting characteristics reflected in a group of individuals and are learnt by the child at the onset of learning to write. The style of writing, which is acquired by the learner, is what which is fashionable at the particular time and place. Following are the features, which are covered in class characteristics:-

                   1)      Type of movement

2)      Line quality

3)      Speed and skill

4)      Rhythm

5)      Spacing between letters, word and line

6)      Slant

7)      Alignment

8)      Connection and strokes between letters

9)      Size and proportions of letters

10)  Pen pressure, pen hold, pen position and pen shading

11)  Coordination of writing muscles

 *3. Ellen, David; scientific examination of documents; 3rd edition; 2001; Taylor & Francis.CRC.

 Individual characteristics

The writer with the passage of time acquires personal characteristics and each individual develops peculiarities in his handwriting some are consciously acquired for style and pictorial appearance or for convenience, while others habits become rooted in the writing process. The principle on which the individual handwritings characteristics are found in the handwriting are: -

1)                           Identifying and differentiating characteristics which are most divergent from the regular copy-book standard are of the most force

2)                            Repeated characteristics which are inconspicuous should be first sought

3)                           Characteristics those are modified or individualized by different writers in different ways.  The curious physical twist in the formations of characters would show individualized characteristics of a writer.

 *3. Ellen, David; scientific examination of documents; 3rd edition; 2001; Taylor & Francis.CRC.

 

National Characteristics

             To the extent that writing system within a country share common features and induce class characteristics in the writing of its people, which are different from the products of writing system of other countries, such features are referred to as National Characteristics.

 *1.    Huber, A. Roy; Headrick, M.A (1999) Handwriting Identification: facts and fundamentals; CRC press ltd.

 Accidentals characteristics in writing

             There are occurrences in writings that may have little or no plausible explanation.  They may be unusual forms, shapes or movements, breaks in the writing lines, even the doubling of some letters or parts of letters.  They are more often minor in nature, in frequent, and of insufficient concern to the writer as to warrant attention or correction.

 Definition:  Accidentals are isolated, brief, or temporary digressions from normal writing practices.  Rather a designation or label given to an element of a questioned writing that digresses significantly from the normal and natural writing practices observed in the writing standards. 

 *1.    Huber, A. Roy; Headrick, M.A (1999) Handwriting Identification: facts and fundamentals; CRC press ltd.

 Circumstances for the production of handwriting

 

            Osborn and others have generally agreed that despite numerous similarities in two sets of writing a conclusion or identity cant be made if there are one or more differences in fundamental features of writing.  There are some points suggested for this:

i)                    Adequacy of standards

ii)                   Accidental occurrences

iii)                 Alternative styles

iv)                 Ambidexterity

v)                  Carelessness or negligence

vi)                 Changes in health condition of writer

vii)               Changes in physical condition of writer

viii)              Changes in mental condition of writer

ix)                 Concentration on the act of writing

x)                  Disguise or deliberate change

xi)                 Influence of Drugs or alcohol

xii)               Influence of medications

xiii)              Intentional change for later denial

xiv)             Nervous tension

xv)               Natural variation

xvi)             Writing condition place or circumstances

xvii)            Writing instrument

xviii)          Writing position including stance

xix)             Writing surface

xx)               Writing under stress

 

*1.    Huber, A. Roy; Headrick, M.A (1999) Handwriting Identification: facts and fundamentals; CRC press ltd.

 What makes handwriting identification difficult ?

 

            There are a number of circumstances that have an effect upon the conclusion, which can be drawn in handwriting studies and examination.  These include:

 

v     The qualitative insufficiency of the habits exhibited by the questioned material

v     Wide variation in the standard from one writing occasion to the next

v     The quantitative insufficiency of the habits that the questioned material contains

v     Poor writing skill and degeneration of letter forms

v     The unreliability of reproductions as a record of writing habits and of the character of the original document, when examination of the original is not possible

v     The deliberate distortion or disguised of the questioned writing or of the writing standards

v     An anomalous condition of the writer or circumstances of writing of the questioned document

 

*1.    Huber, A. Roy; Headrick, M.A (1999) Handwriting Identification: facts and fundamentals; CRC press ltd.

 

 

A.      Elements of Style

 

1.   Arrangement

 

      Influenced by artistic ability, sense of proportion and instruction received.

      The product of a group of habits.

 

2.   Class of Allograph

 

            The four styles of allograph.

           

3.      Connections

 

      Interword.

      Intraword.

 

4.   Designs of Allograph and their Constructions

 

      Correspondence to foreign/domestic or particular writing systems.

      Number, nature, position, sequence, and direction of strokes in letter composition.

      Use of two or more forms for the same letter.

      Capitalization divergences from standard practices.

 

5.   Dimensions

           Proportions of elements of letters, i.e., of bowls to the staffs, bodies to loops, of arches to loops.

      Absolute sizes.

      Relative sizes of specific letters to specific letters,

According to position in words.

 6.   Slant or Slop

        Of the writing in general, and,

      Of letters of parts of letter in particular.

 7.   Spacing

        Interword.

      Intraword.

 B.      Elements of Execution

 8.   Abbreviations

        Word contractions that eliminate letters.

      Letter combinations that sacrifice from for speed.

 9.   Alignment

 The relation of successive letter of a signature, a word or line of writing to an actual or imaginary base line.

 

10. Commencements and Terminations

        Their length, direction, and path

      Their taper (the abruptness with which the instrument approaches and leaves the paper)

11.  Diacritics and Punctuation presence, style, and location.

12.  Embellishments

 Including flourishes, ornamentation, rubrics, and underscrores.

 13. Legibility or Writing Quality

 Ease of recognition of letter or adherence to copybook form.

 14. Line Continuity

 The presence/ absence of pen stops, pen lifts, or retracings.

 15. Line Quality

 The degree of regularity (i.e., smoothness and /or gradation) to the writing stroke as is judged from the consistency of its nature and of its path in a prescribed direction.  It varies from smooth and controlled to tremulous and erratic.

 16. Pen Control

       Pen Hold

      Pen Position

      Point Load (pen pressure)

o       To be considered if and when determinable.

o       Evidenced by shading, greater deposition of ink or graphite or by the depression of the paper, Called rhythm, or fluency or a flowing hand when it materializes as a harmonious and graduated recurrence.

o       Absolute occurring in all writing.

o       Relative greater or lesser in some strokes.

 17. Writing Movement

            Variants in the predominating action of the writing instrument.  May be three-dimensional.

      Observed in letter formation and interword connections that may be:

a.                   Garlanded anticlockwise movements predominate.

b.                  Arched clockwise movements predominate.

c.                   Angular straight lines take precedence to curves.

d.                  Indeterminable

 C.      Attributes of All Writing Habits

 18. Consistency or Natural Variation

 The precision with which the habits are executed on repeated occasions.

 19. Persistency

 The frequency with which a given habit occurs when the occasion permits.

 D.      Combinations Writing Habits

 20. Lateral Expansion

        Ranges from contracted to expand.

      The product of spacing and letter formation.

21. Word Proportions

        Vertical dimension versus horizontal dimension.

      The product of size and spacing.

 Classification style

1.      The classification of inherent characteristics of handwriting, e.g., skill, letter forms, etc.

2.      The classification of variations in the arrangement of handwriting on a document, particularly the manner of completing a cheque form, sometimes referred to as the completion method.

 There are nine aspects according to Angst and Erismann(1972) in Zurich kantonpolizei laboratory;

      Writing skill

      Line quality

      Slope

      Size

      Width (lateral expansion)

      Angularity

      Type and degree of connection

      Position of diacritics

      Construction of cursive and block letters

 Another measurement of handwriting analysis given by Allan, Pearson, and Brown (1978)

      The number of lines taken to write a passage

      The margin widths

      The paragraph indention

      The length of the last 10 spaces

      The length of last 11 words and spaces

      The length of first 10 spaces

      The length of the first 11 words and spaces

      The ratio of relative heights of letters with ascenders

 Ansell, (1979) reviewed a number of the classification programs developed to that point, including unpublished work that he conducted with H.Prichard at the metropolitan police forensic science laboratory in London. There are 18 parameters use for classify the samples of block lettering from 134 subjects, that was successful in discriminating between all but three pairs of subjects. The 18 parameters are summarized as concerning:

 

      The design and shape of the A.

      The commencement of the A, B, D, and other letters.

      The termination of the G.

      The number of strokes in the constructions of the K.

      The centers of the M and W (long or short).

      The termination of the U.    

 

McCarthy (1981), in three case illustrations, reiterates what others had said, that asynchronous writings display:

 

1.                  Greater variation:

a.                   In writing styles

b.                  In arrangement or location of written material

c.                   In the use and manner of abbreviations

d.                  In methods of record production

e.                   In writing angles and in pen pressures

f.                    In writing inks, instruments and pen performance

2.                  Less evidence of progression in left hand margins

3.                  Less evidence of prior knowledge of text to be written

4.                  Less or no evidence of relatable indentations on pages behind or (in page substitutions) from pages above.

Foley (1987), classify another measurement:

            1.                  The writing instrument

2.                  The writing position

3.                  The writing media (pen or pencil and paper)

4.                  The paper position relative to the writer

5.                  The writing space

On the other hand internal influences should include:

1.                  The writers state of mind

2.                  The writers state of health

3.                  The formality and informality

4.                  The level of trauma and pleasure

5.                  The writers state of intoxication or psychosis.

 *1 for reference

 Factors affecting handwriting characteristics

 1.         Extrinsic:           Physiological constraints, circumstantial, literacy and education, imitations, surface and texture of writing surface, type of pen, physical environment, etc.

 2.         Intrinsic:            Physical health, mental health, temporal states (alcohol, drugs, and hypnosis), genetic factors, etc.

             Handwriting can also be affected by other factors injury, illness, medication, drug or alcohol use, stress, the writing surface, the writing instrument, or attempt disguise.  It is the job of the document examiner to understand these factors as they might relate to a specific situation.  Out aim is to understand the relationship between mental status of an individual and his or her handwriting.

 *2.  Harrison, R. Wilson; Suspect Document; third Indian reprint, 2003; Universal law publishing Co. Pvt. Ltd.

 Initial acquisition of personal characteristics

       Acquisition of slope:  Once the guidelines in the copy book have been left behind, the differences in the writing of the pupils become more marked because, for the first time, the slope of the writing has to be controlled whilst the later are being outlined.  Some find little difficulty in establishing a reasonably constant slope, whilst others find this beyond their capacity and produce unevenly sloped handwriting to the end of their days.

       The size of handwriting: Those who are likely to become good writers experience little difficulty in controlling both the absolute and the relative sizes of their letters, but others, generally those who show lack of skill in pen control, will exhibit a marked lack of consistency in both respect. 

             This variation in the relative sizes of letters and parts of letter plays such an important part in the comparison of handwriting that it will be considered in some detail.

       Letter design: Handwriting has slowly developed over the ages; the Romans for simplicity in cutting into stone designed the original forms of letters from which most western alphabets have been developed.  Whilst the original letters designed were well adapted to their medium, there is little doubt that the modern connected cursive handwriting into which they have been modified has little to recommend it for speed of writing. This becomes patent hen its letter formations are compared with the corresponding outlines, which form the basis of any modern system of shorthand.

Shorthand letter outlines have been designed to ensure that, as far as is practicable; the writing-point travels in a forward motion reduced to a minimum.

On the other hand, handwriting bristles with formations, which not only halt the forward motion of the pen, but also actually demand the reversal of its motion to form the retraces, which are an essential feature of many letter designs.

It is consequently not surprising that when the pupil sets out to apply his newly acquired handwriting to practical purposes. Designs and the modifications of others, with the object of both speeding and easing the production of the written script.

This means that once handwriting is used for practical purposes, gross deviations from the copybook letter designs are introduced to add to the lapses from perfection already present.

Generally speaking, about forty letter designs are in regular use, and as most people have their own methods of simplifying and speeding theyre writing, it is apparent that there is considerable scope for variations in handwriting, solely from the point of view of letter design.

*2.  Harrison, R. Wilson; Suspect Document; third Indian reprint, 2003; Universal law publishing Co. Pvt. Ltd.

The significance of variations between writers

             All of these considerations, in addition to overall factors such as size, slope, line quality, and smoothness of curvature, provide an enormous potential to separate the block capital and cursive writings of one person from those of another.  What makes this possible is the fact that with so many variables available in every letter, and so many letters available for comparison between the writings of any two people, there is no practical possibility that one will resemble in other every respect.  Of course, such a coincidence is in theory possible, but to encounter it in practice can safely be discounted.  However, this states the ideal position and refers to writings of a person as a whole.  To say, then, that any one individual has a uniquely personal method of writing may be true, but to say that every piece of writing made by that person could not be matched by another person is not.  How true this is for any one piece of writing depends upon the amount of material present and how unusual it is.  Provided that a sufficient amount of material is present, the combination of features used by one person in his or her writing will be sufficiently different from the combination of features of any other person for any chance match to be found.  If the amount of writing is smaller, the probability of coincidental match will be greater.  Other by the number of dots, between one and three, above or below a feature common to all of them.  There is, however, a difference between the same letters written at the beginning, at the end, or in the middle of the word, so a large amount of comparable material is available in most writing.

 *3. Ellen, David; scientific examination of documents; 3rd edition; 2001; Taylor & Francis.CRC.

 Pattern recognition techniques

             The development of methods to read handwriting by machine has lead to application of these techniques to distinguish between the writings of different people.  Computer based pattern recognition methods are extremely complicated, requiring specialist knowledge in a rather obscure field.  Heights of upper loop and the areas within them can be compared, measured and data provided.  Similarly, areas within circular letter and angularity can be calculated.

             These methods have not yet entered the area of forensic documents examination to any extent.  It appears that they will provide a method of retrieval of a similar writing from a large number of samples in a collection; in Germany this has already begun.  In the United Kingdom, research has been carried out into the use of such methods to authenticate signatures at points of sale.  It seems unlikely that evidence in courts of law will be based on pattern recognition techniques anytime soon, if ever.

 *3. Ellen, David; scientific examination of documents; 3rd edition; 2001; Taylor & Francis.CRC.

 
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