Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to your Questions

1. What do I need for a handwriting comparison/signature examination?
  • For a handwriting examination: comparable, contemporaneous original known signatures are requested. Comparable known signatures means they are comparable in wording, writing style (cursive vs. hand printed) and format to the questioned signatures. Contemporaneous signatures are collected in the same time frame as the questioned signature(s).
  • Twenty-to twenty-five known signatures are requested to accompany the writing in question. Possible sources of undictated known signatures include: course of business writings, personal correspondence, employment applications, mortgage papers, deeds, bank records, Department of Motor Vehicle forms, and personal checks.
    The original evidence is always preferred.
2. How long does a handwriting examination take?
  • Turnaround time is about 2 weeks. However, if your case is extremely urgent or you have a specific deadline, we will try to accommodate you.
3. What is your mailing address?
  • Please email meredith@dekalbmiller.com before mailing any evidence. The specimens should be mailed through a certified carrier with a tracking number (i.e. Federal Express, DHL)
4. Are document examinations destructive to the evidence?
  • No, all examinations are non-destructive.
5. Can a preliminary opinion be obtained?
  • Yes, however, a handwriting examination follows standard procedures that cannot be skipped or shortened to conduct a thorough and complete handwriting examination. A standard retainer agreement for document services may be obtained by calling +1 (312) 343-9902 or email: meredith@dekalbmiller.com. Inquiries regarding preliminary opinions will be handled on a case by case basis.
6. What about travel time?
  • Travel time is charged at 50% of the hourly rate. There is an exception for the following cities where I travel often (i.e. Chicago, New York, Miami, Atlanta, and Houston).
  • Travel to Chicago, New York, Miami, Atlanta, and Houston:
    • Travel time to these cities will be charged on the time required from the airport to the downtown offices.
7. How do I know a document examiner is qualified?
  • The minimum requirements for the fundamental training of forensic document examiners include:
  • An earned baccalaureate degree or equivalent from an accredited college or university.
  • Successfully completed the equivalent of a minimum of 24 months full time supervised training by a principal trainer who is a forensic document examiner.
  • Have at least 5 years of full time post-training experience as a forensic document examiner.
8. What is an exemplar?
  • An exemplar is a verifiable handwriting specimen that is known to be genuine. Exemplars are compared with questioned writing in order to determine the authenticity of what is questioned. Genuineness of the exemplars can be proven by the admission of the person who wrote it, by witnesses who saw the person writing or who heard the person acknowledge his handwriting, or by acceptance of the documents in the normal course of business.
9. Is graphology the same as forensic document examination?
  • Graphology attempts to predict character traits from a handwriting examination. Forensic document examination involves the analysis and comparison of questioned documents with known material in order to identify, when possible, the author or origin of the questioned document. Some graphologists call themselves handwriting analysts or document examiners and are therefore confused with forensic document examiners.
10. What do the terms “forensic science” and “forensic document examination” mean?
  • Forensic science is the application of science to law. The application of allied sciences and analytical techniques to questions concerning documents is termed forensic document examination. The examination of questioned documents consists of analysis and comparison of questioned handwriting, hand printing, typewriting, commercial printing, photocopies, papers, inks, and other documentary evidence with known material in order to establish the authenticity of the contested material as well as the detection of alterations.