Forensic Document Examination

Exam Submission Guide
ISPFS QD Brochure

Analytical Methods
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Forensic Document Examination Centrally Stored Use Quality Data
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Whenever a document is used during the commission of a crime, the follow up investigation is
often the critical issue in determining the authenticity of a questioned document in resolving a
dispute or criminal matter.

Authenticating a questioned document can include anything written, printed, typed, or
reproduced such as, checks, contracts, wills, letters, threatening and anonymous notes, robbery
notes, and counterfeit documents. Identity theft crimes that are committed with documents is also
a growing trend. At the Idaho State Police, the following forensic document examination
services are available to all client agencies in the state:

•   Handwriting examinations to determine authorship of a question writing and signatures.
Evidence items submitted for handwriting examinations and comparisons might identify an
individual writer or determine that the individual did not author the questioned document. It is
very important that the investigator collects sufficient questioned and known documents tha t
are suitable in quality and quantity for a meaningful examination and comparison.
Investigators can obtain known writing samples by way of requested standards and collected
standards. Requested standards are those known writing samples in which the inve stigator
administers and witnesses the subject providing the known writing. Collected standards are
those known writing samples in which the court has accepted as being the genuine known
writing of the subject.

•   Printing process examinations to determine how a document was created and by what
process. Whether the questioned document submitted for examination was printed by means of
a multi function computer printer, a typewriter, photocopier, or commercial process, valuable
information may be revealed as to the kind of printing process used to prepare the questioned
document. This is very important for counterfeiting cases, such as car titles, checks,
certificates, and government issued ID cards.

•   Indented document examinations to detect and visualize latent indented writing or markings
and may determine the source of a questioned document. Latent indented writing and other
valuable markings can appear on the sheet(s) below a source document. A pad of paper is a
good example where indented writing is created by the transfer of pressure from a writing
instrument from where the page of writing is to the pages underneath. This type of examination
during the investigation of anonymous letter and note cases may provide helpful information
for the investigator. Careful packaging of this type of document evidence by the investigator is
crucial from collection to submission to the laboratory to prevent unintended impressions on
the evidence items.

•  Physical match examinations to associate torn or cut documents with a source document.
Careful examination techniques are employed to preserve this delicate evidence, such as the
association of torn pages to a source tablet or notebook. Examination of a shredded document
for restora tion purposes may also provide helpful information for the investigator.

•  Non destructive ink and paper examinations to determine, depending on the submission,
whether ink or papers samples can be distinguished from other respected samples.
Examinations o f this nature are often used in cases suspected of being alterations and
counterfeit documents.

•   Charred and liquid soaked document examinations to restore damaged documents for
investigative purposes. Careful handling examination techniques are employed t o preserve this
delicate evidence. Cautious handling of this type of document evidence by the investigator is
crucial from the collection, packaging, and the submission to the laboratory. The agency is
encouraged to consult with the laboratory prior to sub mission to the laboratory.

If you have questions or need to discuss anything regarding your case, please contact the Idaho
State Police Forensic Services at 208 209 8700 or by email at
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