Frequently Asked Questions
The field of forensic document examination offers services related to the study of documents or other materials containing handwriting, typewriting, or printing. A forensic document examiner draws conclusions about documents including: verification of authenticity, signature comparison and identification; alterations of documents (erasures, indented writing, altered sequence of writing) and any other problem that arises concerning the legitimacy of writing on documents.
Forensic document examiners are also known as handwriting experts. Some people confuse the title “handwriting analyst” with a qualified handwriting expert. Handwriting analysis is the psychological profiling of a person based on handwriting styles. This is very different than a “handwriting expert” (or better stated a forensic document examiner). The document examiner is trained to determine the authorship of a handwriting sample and provide no evaluation of the writer’s mental state. Document examiners are often used as expert witnesses in a court of law while handwriting analysts are usually restricted to the jury screening process and rarely give testimony on “written documents.”
First, the total fee will depend on the time and requirements of your particular case. I publish my lower – than – average rates and will adhere strictly to them, so you will never be surprised at the final bill. In order to get started I require a $990 retainer fee against the final bill.
Once I’ve seen the documents and investigated your case, I will contact you with a verbal opinion. If you need this opinion notarized and in writing for legal purposes, the total fee will be $990. See my fee schedule for a complete list of expenses.
Costs can vary.
We provide one complete source for all of your signature analysis, document examining, forgery or handwriting issues. We specialize in forged, altered or counterfeit documents, checks, wills, deeds, legal contracts, court preparation consultation, on-site examination, laboratory examination and analysis, document photography, preparation of court exhibits, preparation of written reports, deposition and court testimony.
We compare papers, inks, printing, typewriting, computer-generated documents, facsimiles (faxes), photocopies, rubber stamps and stapler or hole punch holes. We examine and identify signatures, hand printing, handwriting, initials, and numbers. You can call me toll free and tell me all about your case and you will be charged no initial consulting fee. (A free consultation is quite rare in this industry).
Many of my cases are done by way of the fax machine. The originals are always best. Good clear photo copies are second best. I will be able to find out information from the originals that cannot be found with photocopies or faxes. If you feel your case will go to court, having the originals will provide the best case for winning in court. Please locate the original documents if available.
I'm not going to go to court with this. It is personal and I just really want to know for myself if a particular person sent this to me.
Not a problem we get many such requests. After careful examination I will know if the writings were done by the same person or a different person.
There is a big difference. Graphology studies psychological profiles by way of personality traits and document examination does not have anything to do with personality traits. Perhaps you could think of it as horse racing and car racing. They both share competition but are totally different. Graphologists and document examiners are two totally different fields of study.
The study of Graphology does not qualify someone as a document examiner. Conversely, the study of document examining does not qualify someone to judge personalities through the signatures. There are some people who have studied extensively in both areas.
Refer to my fee schedule for an entire detailed list. The cost will depend on the amount of court exhibits needed, the amount of travel to the jurisdiction of the court, the amount of preparation and the complexity of the case. Some are quite simple while others are very detail.
The judge will make that decision based solely upon the experience and credentials of the document examiner. Here are some facts that will help you understand why I am more than qualified to represent you in court.
There is no national certification for document examiners. The government agencies (FBI, CIA, and ATF) have “in house” two-year programs of training and apprenticeship. I also have been part of a two-year program attending the School of Forensic Document Examination.
My apprenticeship was under Mr. Don Lehew who has been involved in high profile cases, and Mrs. Katherine Koppenhaver who is considered an authority in the field and has written many books on the subject. She has done more than 2600 cases.
All forensic document examiners have to qualify each time in a court of law by decision of the judge. Once the court accepts an expert’s qualifications, their opinions are admissible as evidence.
Handwriting is brain writing. No two people write exactly the same. Handwriting identification is based on two accepted principals, writing habits and the individuality of the writing.
A forgery is an imitation or alteration of a document, handwriting or signature, being represented as an original with the intent to defraud.
An exemplar is a handwriting sample that is known to be genuine. Exemplars are compared with questioned material in order to determine the authenticity or spuriousness of what is questioned. The authenticity of the exemplar must be verifiable.
Genuineness of the exemplars can be proven by the admission of the person who wrote it, by witnesses who saw the person writing or who heard the person acknowledge his handwriting, or by acceptance of the documents in the normal course of business. An exemplar is also called a standard.
The word “Forensic” means the application of science to law. So a Forensic Document Examiner (also known as Questioned Document Examiner) discovers and develops evidence from a document or signature that can be used in a court of law. The handwriting expert’s job is to determine whether handwriting/printing is authentic or forged, and to identify or eliminate a person as an author.
NOTE: Portions of the answers for FAQ’s have been quoted from “Attorney’s Guide to Document Examination” by Katherine Koppenhaver and “Handwriting Identification: Facts and Fundamentals” by Roy Huber and A. M. Headrick. We are not lawyers, but document examiners. You should seek legal advice from a suitable lawyer.