Forensic Techniques: Handwriting Comparison
University of North Georgia
Forensic Techniques: Handwriting Comparison
Forensic Document Examination is a broad field in forensics that covers a variety of subspecialties. These areas range from signature verification, to photocopy manipulation, to stamp impressions and more. This paper will focus specifically on the specialty of handwriting comparisons. This should not be confused with handwriting analysists, or graphologists, who strive to identify a writer by determining their psychological state and personality. Those who practice handwriting comparison seek to determine the validity of a document, or if different documents were written by the same person, by the distinct characteristics of the writing. This is useful in a wide variety of criminal cases from authenticating suicide notes to determining forgeries.
So, how exactly does a handwriting comparison work? Well, in order to make a comparison one must first have a writing of unknown authorship and a writing of known authorship, preferably several. There are two different types of writings that could be collected. The first type, spontaneous writing, is a writing that an author would make on a normal day. For example, a diary entry would be a spontaneous writing. The second type, requested writing, is something that an author would be asked to write for the express purpose of examiner’s comparison with other writings. Both types of standards used for comparison have some advantages and disadvantages. Spontaneous writing is done without any conscious focus on how a person writes and is therefore more likely to show a person’s unaltered way of writing. On the other hand, these writings te...
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... carpenter who lived in the U.S. for the past eleven years, matched descriptions of Dr. Condon and the service attendant, and had a $20 gold certificate with serial number matching that of the ransom money. Hauptmann admitted to making several purchases with the ransom money (FBI, 2010).
With the suspect apprehended there was still the trial to go through. As soon as Hauptmann was taken into custody some samples of his writings were flown to Washington D.C., where a comparison of the samples to the ransom notes could be made. Through a comparison of several of Hauptmann’s sample writings found in his home and the thirteen ransom notes, it was concluded that Hauptmann was the same person who wrote the notes. Other circumstantial evidence was also compiled. The case went to the Supreme Court where Hauptmann was ultimately sentenced to death for his crimes (FBI, 2010).
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