A forensic document examiner (FDE) makes scientific examinations, comparisons and analysis of documents to:
- establish genuineness or no genuineness, or to expose forgery, or to reveal alterations, additions, or deletions,
- identify or eliminate persons as the source of handwriting,
- identify or eliminate the source of typewriting or other impression, marks, or relative evidence.
A FDE mainly expresses his findings by writing reports or giving testimony, when needed, to aid the users of the examiner’s services in understanding the examiner’s findings.
A forensic document examiner is not a graphologist; forensic document examination does not involve the study of handwriting to create a personality profile or even analyze a writer's personality or character.
The work of a FDE usually refers to:
The examination of handwritten items
A forensic document examiner can reliably form an opinion concerning whether two or more handwritten items were written by the same person.
Age, sex, and personality cannot be determined by a handwriting examination.
For comparative reasons, some exemplars should be collected; undictated writing concerning documents prepared during the normal course of life or business activity should be collected; on the other side, known text should be written.
The examination of altered documents
A forensic document examiner can reliably form an opinion concerning whether a document has been altered; an alteration is the modification made to a document by physical, chemical or mechanical means including, but not limited to, obliterations, additions, overwriting, or erasures.
Examination of documents produced with toner technology
A FDE can reliably form an opinion concerning whether two or more documents produced through toner technology are from the same device, whether a specific device created the document, or the determination of the make or model of a device.
Examination of typewritten or printed items
A forensic document examiner can reliably form an opinion concerning a document prepared on typewriters or whether a single-strike ribbon or lift-off correction tape was used in the preparation of a specific typed text.
Some of these procedures can also be applied to examinations of documents prepared on other impact and nonimpact printing devices.
Examination of Rubber Stamp Impressions
A forensic document examiner can reliably reach an opinion concerning whether two or more stamp-impressions have a common origin or if a rubber stamp impression was created by a specific rubber stamp.
Examination of indentations
A forensic document examiner can reliably form an opinion concerning indentations, which are latent or visible impressions in paper or other media.
Non-destructive examination of paper
A forensic document can reliably evaluate the physical similarities or differences between papers that can lead to the conclusion as to whether papers are originated by the same source
The scope of work and minimum training requirements of a FDE
The scope of work of FDE and the minimum requirements and procedures that should be used for the fundamental training of them are described on a SWGDOC’s Standards. (http://www.swgdoc.org/index.php/standards/published-standards).
Submitting Evidence for Examination
Questioned documents should be packaged separately to avoid contamination concerning any DNA evidence or latent fingerprints.