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When a Handwriting Analysis Expert Witness Is Needed

Some cases have documentation that requires verification through handwriting analysis. This means an expert is needed for analyzing the handwriting of an individual for certain factors of an incident. This may be observed through a kidnapping where a note was left. To determine who may have abducted the person, if there is a criminal in a database with a signature or handwriting on file, this may assist in apprehending the perpetrator of the crime.

Other cases may involve ongoing investigation where notes are left that lead to clues. Some persons that commit certain crimes feel the need to taunt law enforcement. This means handwriting analysis experts are necessary to examine the documents and help in discovering what type of person is involved.

In order to properly analyze a document, it is important to understand how examining the handwriting matters to a case. This means following steps in forensic document examination. Analysis, comparison and evaluation of the handwriting involved often garner results in realizing who is involved and what he or she may be doing through interacting with law enforcement. If the perpetrator of the crime is hard to catch, analysis of his or her handwriting may assist in creating a profile so that officers and agents involved in the case are aware of what type of
person and his or her habits are that has committed the crimes.

The Process of Handwriting Analysis

The idea behind analyzing handwriting is that there are no exact duplicates between individuals that write anything by hand. This means that only one person may produce the exact same writing or reproduce it. The variation allows experts in handwriting to make determinations about the person and compare and contrast the documents to others. Natural deviations are considered a part of someone’s personal handwriting as the hand rarely makes the exact same copy of his or her previous work. The comprehensive and comparative examination with documents is applied when analyzing. This allows the expert professional to specify habits, characteristics of the individual, similarities and differences in style and other information that may be obtained through this process.

Comparison and evaluation usually comes next. The different elements must be separated from the sample that is known and those of the unknown. Considerations of spelling, grammar styles, punctuations or a lack of it and how phrases are used are all important. Once all other factors have been applied, it is time to evaluate the similarities with both known and unknown samples. Differences assist in what may be non-matches, there are no single characteristics that are similar, even if unique, that determine a match in the handwritings. Each likeness must be examined and considered. The entirety of the documents must be evaluated completely so that a judgment may be made on a case by case basis.


When handwriting samples are from two different writers, there are often structural differences that may be seen in letter formations and spacing. There are often connecting strokes to letters or words that usually may be visible with a slant or non-slant and permit a differentiation between the two. Some write on the baseline of a piece of paper while others may write below this baseline. This is the baseline alignment. Many persons have similarities in letter creation, word connections and these styles and themes. However, careful analysis usually proves that subtle differences give away who is writing.

Standards and Examination

Forensic document analysis may be accomplished through standards that have been published by the American Society for Testing and Materials. These standards provide guidance in analyzing handwriting and the scope of work that is conducted by these document examiners. The guidelines provided in the published standards have a minimum requirement in training needed for these experts. Some professionals must go through extensive examinations and certification before they may apply their knowledge to forensic document analysis.

Expert Witness Testimony for Handwriting Analysis

When an expert in handwriting has been retained by law enforcement, he or she may be required to provide testimony in a court case as well. His or her work in assisting in the police or federal investigation usually creates a basis in personality or habits of the person that is being sought. This in turn assists agents and officers in tracking down someone that is similar to these characteristics found in the handwriting of letters or documents relevant to the case. Expert witness testimony also provides a detailed understanding of how the individual was able to determine certain aspects of the writer based on his or her letters, words and phrases.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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