Questioned Documents: Nature of Questioned Documents

An expert is examining a piece of paper with a hand lens

Many of us write letters, applications, findings, reports, judgments, and opinions. Cheques, Drafts with signatures are generally issued, forms, register, etc. All of them are necessary for individual, official, legal, business, or professional purpose. Certificates are issued by authorities to establish a date of birth and death, legal notes, driving license, etc.

Therefore, document is an object of paper, stone, wall, wooden piece, glass sheet, plastic, metal, leather, etc., which contains an inscription, writing, or any symbol conveying information to a person or a person about any incident or financial or legal transaction.

What is a Questioned Document?

Each and every activity in this modern era is concerned with documents. False documents are produced for committing crimes of deceiving frauds, criminal misconduct, or misappropriation. During any investigation of a civil dispute or a crime, the genuineness of the document is in question; these documents are called a Questioned Document.

Therefore, one can define a questioned document as “Any material which contains typewritten, printed or handwritten marks and its authenticity is in doubt.” Cheques, letters, passports, book bills, money receipts, driving license, wills, contracts, voting cards, identity cards, money order forms, sale deeds, etc.

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These are some standard pieces of evidence encountered. Most of the time, they become essential in the chain of evidence in the heinous crimes e.g., arson, dacoity, murder, kidnapping, suicide, etc.

Nature of Questioned Documents

The document found at a crime scene can be forged, disguised, or a genuine document. Let’s talk about each one of them thoroughly.

  1. Genuine documents:– The document which the official user writes, and we cannot find any sign of alterations (alteration by addition or alteration by substitution), erasures, obliteration, or disguised handwriting. There is a presence of natural variations, the most essential characteristic in the genuineness of a document. Natural variations are the minor variations present in individual handwriting as no two handwriting, even of the same individual, can be exact. If it finds to be an exact one, the document is then forged.
  2. Forged DocumentsWhen a person tries to falsify a document either by alterations (alteration by addition or alteration by substitution), erasures, obliteration, or by imitating handwriting or any signature by various means, it is called Forgery, and the document in which Forgery takes place is called a forged document. It is done for financial or extraneous gains, which causes wrongful loss to others. 
  3. Altered DocumentsFrequent poor writing or the patching of the existing writing led to the formation of altered documents. A person either overwrites on the existing writing or changes letters or numerals.
  4. Erasure Documents:– When some part of the document is erased either chemically by the help of chlorine or bromine water which decolorizes the ink, solvents, detergents, etc., or mechanically by the help of eraser, rubber, sharp knife or a blade, sandpaper, etc. Such documents are called Erasure documents.
  5. Obliterated Documents:– When the writing part of the document is destructed effectively without removing it or making it invisible. It is an act of smearing or blotting on writing or the printed marks to make the original document unreadable. This document is called an obliterated document.
  6. Disguised Documents:– When a person intentionally tries to alter or change his own handwriting to prevent his identification, such documents are called disguised documents. Any letters, ransom notes, blackmailing attempts, threats, or any such documents can be disguised by an individual by thinking that no one can recognize it. Request standard writings can also be a disguised document so that no one can identify the writer.     
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