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Use of a Criminal Defense Handwriting Expert

Use of a Criminal Defense Handwriting Expert

In many types of criminal cases it is a common accusation by police that signatures or documents are not genuine. The most common type of charge with this element is forgery, but this can also be present in any other type of case that either the government or defense may use a signed or handwritten document. This could be anything from a check, suicide note, blackmail letter, or a common grocery list.

Handwriting analysis is a special skill. A good expert will have undergone substantial training and have years of experience in examining questioned documents. Additionally they will have experience in preparing reports to document their findings, testifying in court, and having their opinions hold up under cross-examination.

South Carolina prosecutors do not automatically scrutinize documents in this fashion. In fact, in many forgery and other serious cases where the genuineness of a document could be questioned there is no expert analysis conducted by law enforcement at all.

Here is a fictional example of the use of a handwriting expert:

Sara is arrested for forgery after cashing a $1,000 check given to her by her mother for her birthday. After cashing the check her and her mother get into an argument caused by Sara’s boyfriend. The mother goes to the bank and tries to put a stop-payment on the check. After learning it had already cleared she says it was stolen and files a police report.

A handwriting expert could be retained by Sara’s attorney to review the cashed check, and compare it to other checks bearing her mother’s signature. If the signatures match this is evidence that Sara didn’t forge the signature, and instead her mother filed a false report.

The best time to use a handwriting expert is as soon as it is apparent that the authenticity of a signature or document could be important to the government’s or defendant’s case. Many times copies of these documents are provided to the defense as part of the discovery process. It can be important to secure access to the originals, which may be held in evidence or in some circumstances never secured by law enforcement. In situations where the originals are no longer available because the police failed to preserve them this can create a significant defense.

The Law Office of James R. Snell, Jr., LLC, has subjected case evidence before to expert handwriting analysis, and has used expert testimony before in court proceedings. If you have a case where the genuineness of a signature or document could be significant you need to ensure a professional analysis is conducted. To schedule your free consultation with one of our attorneys call 1-888-301-6004.


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