FAQ’s Speckin Forensic Laboratories

Can an examination be conducted of a signature or handwriting from only a photocopy?
Yes, but if it is possible to obtain the original it allows a more thorough examination of the document and the circumstances of its production. The possibility of a tracing of a machine copy transfer forgery cannot be ruled out.

Is it possible to date pencil or typewritten documents?
Yes, in some cases.

Is it possible to determine when a questioned document was produced?
Yes, through several different methods that can be conducted in our laboratory.
Some Methods Dating for Handwritten documents
1) Dating of the ink
2) Dating of the paper
3) Impressions found and sequencing of writing with impressions

Some Methods for Dating Photocopied documents
1) By comparing the unique photocopy damage pattern that changes over time, to a series of documents of unquestioned date from the same office.
2) Comparison of the toner used as in the same manner above, noting the time frames that toners matching the questioned document were used.

Some Methods for Dating Computer Generated documents
1) Examination of the computer and hard drives that created the document.
2) Toner analysis as described above for copiers.
3) Damage patterns that may exist from the printer, commonly seen in inkjet printers.
4) The type of paper used and any associated watermarks.

What is necessary to make a signature examination?
The original questioned document or the best generation copy available; also undisputed known signatures of the alleged signatory as contemporaneous with the date on the questioned document as possible.

Can a signature examination be conducted from only a microfilm or facsimile copy?
Yes, again the original is best if available.

What are good sources for known signatures?
-> Affidavits
-> Bank signature cards
-> Bills of sale
-> Checks, including endorsements
-> Employment applications
-> Leases, real property
-> Passports
-> Registered mail return receipts
-> Tax estimates and returns
-> Drivers licenses and applications

In many states we can obtain the last several drivers license applications as known signatures for use in comparison to a questioned document. This is especially useful when the other party is not available or refuses to produce known signatures.

Can an examination be conducted to restore a document that has been damaged or faded?
Yes, we can restore information on documents which have been damaged by fire, water, heat or sunlight.

Is it possible to detect the removal of a warning label from a product?
Yes, it is also sometimes possible to determine if an attempt has been made to conceal its removal.

A lot of people have handled the document, can I still get fingerprints from it?
Yes, paper is a very good source for fingerprints. Fingerprints will stay on paper for several years and the presence of contaminating prints does not preclude an identification.

My document is a number of years old. Can I still get fingerprints?
Yes, fingerprints will stay on paper for several years.

Can documents or files deleted or hidden on a computer be recovered?
Yes, through specialized techniques allows us to search disks and recover files.

What if someone attempts to artificially make a document look older?
The most common means to attempt to artificially age a document are typically through exposure to sunlight (ultraviolet) and heat. These attempts can routinely be detected through a visual, UV, infrared, and microscopic examinations.

What if the medical records are computerized or scanned into a computer with no originals?
1) The date the file was created can be determined. 2) Most systems also have a built-in audit trail that can be examined to determine if any changes or substitutions have been made. 3) There is no violation of other patient’s confidentiality of information on the system with this type of analysis.