An abundance of crucial information can be gleaned from documents related to a criminal or civil case. The suicide note found next to the deceased—was it actually written by a killer trying to cover up his crime? The bank robber’s hold-up note—does it contain invisible impressions that indicate the address of the hideout? The will of a wealthy person—was it altered so a relative could receive a windfall?

The discipline of forensic document examination, often referred to as “questioned documents,” is frequently associated with white-collar crimes such as check fraud; however, in practice, this area of forensic science can be used in a wide array of cases from medical malpractice to art forgeries to homicides.

Armed with sophisticated technology, forensic document examiners can peer into the visible and invisible marks on a document to extract an abundance of details that may verify authenticity or provide additional information crucial to the investigation.

The digital age has made the work of forensic document examiners even more important. With the availability of powerful software programs such as Adobe® Photoshop®, Acrobat® and others, it has become significantly easier for criminals to create and manipulate all manner of fraudulent documents from contracts to currency.

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