Criminal Justice News

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Development of Individual Handwriting Characteristics in ~1800 Students: Statistical Analysis and Likelihood Ratios that Emerge Over an Extended Period of Time

Author: Lisa M. Hanson

Forensic handwriting examinations are an important part of criminal and civil cases. Examples of cases include those involving threatening letters, bomb threats, check fraud, homicides, and controlled substances.

The task of handwriting identification is based on an assumption of individuality: No two people write the same way and no one person writes exactly the same way twice.
This study analyzed and comparing the handwriting of approximately 1,800 children over time, all of whom were in the same age groups and had received the same type of handwriting.

The goals of this study were to determine:
1.         The ages when individual handwriting characteristics begin to develop;
2.         The rate these individual handwriting characteristics develop;
3.         The most common (less unique) individual characteristics that develop;
4.         The least common individual (more unique) individual characteristics that develop.

The findings indicate that as children moved to higher grades, they gradually formed their own writing styles. This supports the principle that handwriting becomes more individualistic with age, even when children are taught the same writing style.

This study marks the beginning of the establishment of a true statistical model that may be used to prove scientifically why forensic handwriting comparisons are possible. The outcome of this research is important for handwriting examiners as well as for all courts and legal areas that involve forensic handwriting examinations.

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