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Forensic Document Examination - An Overview

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Forensic Document Examination - An Overview

05,July 2024

Forensic Document Examination is often known as a questioned document examination. This field is a specialized field of forensic science that helps crime investigation officers analyze, examine, and authenticate the documents that are placed as proof in the court or as presented as supporting documents for a case investigation. Apart from this, the documents that are important for the investigation of a case, for example, the will of a deceased person, bank account details, or transaction details of an organization are also investigated. This field plays an important role in the legal world since they provide their expert opinion regarding the authenticity of documents. Here in this blog, we have given the complete details on forensic document examination to give you an understanding of the same.

What is Forensic Document Examination?

The field of document examination revolves around the analysis and examination of documents including signatures, wills, contracts, handwritten notes, printed documents, etc. The experts in this field primarily deal with the determination of the authenticity of the documents to know whether the presented documents are real ones or forged documents. These professionals try to identify the modifications made to the documents, determine the writing pattern, and discover relevant information that can help in the investigation.

Techniques and Methods Used In Forensic Document Examination:

The tools and techniques that are used in the field of forensic document examination and analysis are several. These techniques are important because it is because of these methods that the examinations are conducted in an efficient manner to get the best result out of the investigation. Some of the top methods that are used for the purpose of document examination are given below in detailed format.

  • Handwriting Analysis: One of the top most aspects of examining the questioned documents is to analyze the handwriting pattern and its characteristics. The experts of this field analyze and examine the writing style, spacing, pen used, the pressure applied by the pen on the paper, letter formations, etc in order to determine the authenticity of the documents presented in the courtroom.
  • Ink and Paper Analysis: Another kind of examination that is being discussed a lot for analysis purposes is the examination of ink used to know its composition along with the paper fibers so as to get valuable clues about the origin and age of a document that needs to be analyzed. For this purpose, advanced techniques like chromatography and spectroscopy are used since they are able to answer such questions in an examination that can’t be answered easily by other examination methods.
  • Detection of Alterations: Documents are always prone to the alterations since it is quite easy for an offender to make changes to the content or the date of issue of the documents. Questioned document examiners are the people who use methods like infrared photography, ultraviolet light examination, and electrostatic detection, to determine whether any kind of alterations are made to the documents or not along with uncovering all sorts of hidden information.
  • Typewritten Document Analysis: For those who think that changes can only be made to handwritten documents, it is important that they know even typewritten documents can be tempered and hence need to be examined by forensic experts. It is because documents like the will of a deceased person or house documents are always in the printed format and need to be analyzed by experts to know authenticity when presented as evidence in a court of law. Analyses that are made to the typewritten documents are typeface, alignment, and spacing.

Applications of Forensic Document Examination:

Those who are not aware of the spectrum of this field think that document examination is a narrow branch of forensic science and finds no relevance in crime investigation. But it is not true because it is as important as fingerprint science is. This field helps in the identification of an offender and to prove the innocence of an accused by examining the documents presented in the court for the purpose of verification. Some of the top applications of this field in the legal world are given below:

  • Forgery Cases: Cases that involve the alterations made to the actual documents for the benefit of an individual are dealt with as forgery cases. In such cases, the experts try to determine the authenticity of signatures or the documents that are alleged to be forged.
  • Fraud Investigations: Verification of such documents that are alleged to be altered or containing discrepancies in documents like contracts, wills, financial documents, etc is also necessary and fraud investigations are done for this purpose.
  • Criminal Investigations: Cases that involve the examination of ransom notes, threatening letters sent to the family of an individual in case of kidnapping or blackmailing, and other documents that are related to criminal activities.
  • Historical Document Analysis: India is a vast country not only in terms of its area but also in terms of the history and culture it has. The history of India starts from the Harappan civilization whose inscriptions are hard to decipher because of unawareness of the grammar and language used by the people of that time. Therefore, whenever our archeological department finds any evidence related to the history of our land, these experts verify and know their authenticity.

Scope of Forensic Document Examination:

When we look at any document it is hard to determine whether the document is a real one or a forged one. The same goes for the signatures, because we can’t differentiate simply by having a look at them and to know are the signatures real or fake. But the forgery in the documents can lead to major loss to a firm or a company, lead to loss of ownership of a house by the beholder, or even in some cases can lead to loss of job. Therefore to make it simpler and to increase the authenticity of the documents presented in any company or case they are examined by the experts of this field.

Forensic document examiners are an integral and important part of the legal world and are responsible for bringing light to such facts that are not dug out by other experts in forensic science field. You must be aware that the writing style and patterns of each individual vary from each other. Though there are a few people who are able to copy the actual signatures and use them to commit crimes, it is not difficult for document examination professionals since they know about them in detail. Document examiners have the option of working in public and private organizations and are not restricted only to the laboratories hence if you wish to enter this field don’t think twice.

Top Recruiters:

Since few people know about this field, professionals who work in this field by acquiring the necessary education for doing the same are also less and hence the corporations and organizations that hire such professionals compete among themselves to get the best candidate to get their work done. If you wish to excel in this field then you should study excellently during your graduation and post graduation. There are some companies that hire these examiners in the final year of their program.

Top Government Recruiters:

Some of the best public sector recruiters for such profiles are as follows:

  • Intelligence Bureau,
  • Central Bureau of Investigation,
  • Government Forensic Laboratory,
  • Crime Branch,
  • Quality Control Bureau,
  • Courts,
  • Narcotics Department,
  • Police Department,
  • Defense Sector,
  • Department of Forensic Medicine.

Top Private Recruiters:

Some of the best private sector recruiters for document examiners are as follows:

  • Private Hospitals,
  • Private Hospitals,
  • Private Forensic Laboratory,
  • Insurance Companies,
  • University,
  • Banks,
  • Private Investigator,
  • Law firms,
  • Secret Service.

Roles And Responsibilities of Document Examiners:

These document examination experts are important for solving criminal cases. They not only act the examiners but play a vital role in helping the crime branch officials to solve the case in less time that too efficiently. Some of the top roles and responsibilities that are played by such professionals are as follows:

  • Uncover alterations, erasures, and variations in pen inks used in the documents,
  • Classification of documents presented as evidence or proof,
  • Examination of presented documents,
  • Examination of signatures on the documents,
  • Determining the age of documents,
  • Examining the printouts,
  • Identification of dot-matrix in the documents,
  • Determining the type of printers used,
  • Cross-examination of the documents presented.

Career Options after PG Diploma in Forensic Document Examination:

If you think you can only work as a document examiner after pursuing an examination course then it is not true because you will be able to work on several profiles in both private and public sector organizations like:

  • Handwriting expert,
  • Digital document analyst,
  • Signature expert,
  • Forensic expert.

The field of forensic document examination is a vital discipline of forensic science that provides crucial evidence in legal investigations. Through proper analysis of handwriting, paper, ink, and typewriting characteristics, such experts play an important role in verifying the authenticity of documents and determining the presence of kind of fraudulent activities. For those interested in forensic science, document examination offers a fascinating and rewarding specialization.

References:

  • https://www.robsonforensic. com/articles/forensic-document- examination-expert-witness
  • https://www.nfsu.ac.in /Programs/programinfo/16? deptid=103
  • https://www.shiksha.com /university/national-forensic- sciences-university-gandhinagar- 48862/course-pg-diploma-in- forensic-document-examination-253947
  • https://www.collegesearch.in /university/gujarat-forensic -sciences-university-gandhinagar /pgd-forensic-document-examination
  • https://upsifs.org/pg-diploma -in-forensic-document-examination.php
  • https://www.ifsedu.in/forensic -science-and-document-examination/