Why should an attorney retain a forensic document examiner?
A forensic document examiner can assist attorneys by resolving disputed signature and handwriting problems. An examiner may also conduct non-destructive laboratory examinations on the document itself to investigate genuineness or spuriousness.
Additionally, a document examiner may provide written reports, offer litigation support as a consulting expert or testify as a trial expert witness. An experienced document examiner can clarify complex and confusing issues for attorney, judge or jury.
When should an attorney contact a forensic document examiner?
You should contact an examiner as soon as possible when evidential documents are disputed. Retaining an expert early will allow for a thorough forensic investigation and can provide valuable information to determine the best course of action for your client.
What are your fees and how long does an analysis take to complete?
Our fee schedule is straightforward, covers frequently requested services and is available upon request. After discussing your specific needs with an examiner a written quotation and retention agreement will be provided.
Since each case is unique the length of time required for an investigation will depend upon the nature and scope of the examinations along with the quantity of materials to be examined. Nevertheless, every effort will be made to meet your deadlines.
How can an attorney determine if a forensic document examiner is really a scientist?
Simply stated, scientific training is the most suitable basic qualification. When selecting a handwriting or document examiner consider if he or she has a science degree or foundation in one of the physical, natural, or forensic sciences from an accredited university. Specialized training, comprehensive apprenticeship, continuing education, professional affiliations, certification and peer group testing are equally important as well as research, publications and teaching in the field.
There is little difficulty in finding individuals on the internet or in legal directories who claim to be qualified examiners. If you wish to have handwriting or documents examined you should be aware that persons who call themselves forensic document examiners may be self-taught, trained in graphology, certified by groups outside mainstream forensic science organizations or lack a basic formal education in the academic or applied sciences.
In addition, experience in other forensic disciplines, fraud investigation or laboratory management does not constitute expertise in forensic handwriting or document examination.
What is Certification?
Certification is a process of peer review by which a practitioner is recognized as having attained the professional qualifications necessary to practice.
Certification by the American Board of Forensic Document Examiners
) identifies qualified individuals capable of providing forensic document services and promotes the advancement of the field through continuing education. In doing so, the Board aims to safeguard the public interest by ensuring that anyone who claims to be a specialist in forensic document examination does, in fact, possess the necessary skills.
There are many other certifying organizations and differences exist between them. The ABFDE
, not to be confused with any groups of a similar name, is the only certifying body that is recognized by the American Academy of Forensic Sciences
, by the American Society of Questioned Document Examiners
and is also accredited by the Forensic Specialties Accreditation Board
Diplomates are held to the highest level of professional standards and ethical conduct. The Board seeks to maintain this level of qualification by ongoing, mandatory recertification every five years. Currently, there are less than 150 certified ABFDE
Diplomates in the United States and Canada.
Is graphology the same as forensic handwriting examination?
While both disciplines involve the analysis of handwriting the principles and methods are quite different. Graphology attempts to create a personality profile while forensics involves scientific method to compare questioned and known writing characteristics to identify or eliminate an author. Unfortunately, there are some graphologists who also claim to be forensic document examiners.