Documents feature prominently in all manner of business and personal affairs. Almost any type of document may become disputed in an investigation or litigation. For example, a questioned document may be a sheet of paper bearing handwriting or mechanically-produced text such as a ransom note, a forged cheque or a business contract. Or it may be some material not normally thought of as a ‘document’. FDEs define the word “document” in a very broad sense as being any material bearing marks, signs or symbols intended to convey a message or meaning to someone.
Examinations and comparisons conducted by document examiners can be quite diverse and may involve any of the following:
- Handwriting (cursive / printing) and Signatures
- Typewriters, Photocopiers, Laser printers, Ink Jet Printers, Fax machines
- Chequewriters, Rubber stamps, Price markers, Label makers
- Printing Processes
- Ink, Pencil, Paper
- Alterations, additions, erasures, obliterations
- Indentation detection and/or decipherment
- Sequence Determination
- Physical Matching
A trainee must learn how to present evidence before the court in clear, forceful testimony. Fledgling examiners in the later stages of training can get a glimpse into the legal process as well as a better sense of this aspect of their work through participation in a mock trial or by attending actual court hearings to observe the testimony of qualified examiners. These are guidelines and not requirements.