Questioned Document Examination (QDE): Definition & Purpose

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Handwriting Analysis: Method & Purpose

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
 Replay
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:03 Questioned Documents
  • 0:39 Examples
  • 1:37 Purpose of a QDE
  • 3:47 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Timeline
Autoplay
Autoplay
Speed Speed

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

This lesson goes over the definition of a questioned document. You'll also learn some of the many purposes of a questioned document examination with some famous examples.

Questioned Documents

Admit it, you or someone you went to school with has tried to pass off a fake doctor's note or parent's note as real. That document is a questioned document. Any document that may be disputed or queried, especially as to its source and/or authenticity, is a questioned document.

In forensic science, such a document may be examined to determine its origin, authenticity, and many other facets in order to solve a potential crime. This lesson will further explain what a questioned document is and what the purposes of a questioned document examination (QDE) may be.

Examples

Expounded Definition

So first, let's further explore what a questioned document can be. The definition from the last section is a pretty broad and, as a result, can include one of a wide variety of documents, including things we don't really consider documents sometimes. A questioned document must contain linguistic markings, and/or numerical markings that have been placed on the document using handwriting, computer printing, copying, typewriting, or some other similar means. The markings do not have to be placed on a piece of paper; they can be placed on any object.

Examples

As a result of this pretty general definition and description, something like graffiti on a wall can be, in a sense, a questioned document in a criminal case. Of course, more often than not, questioned documents include paper or plastic-like material, such as that found in:

  • Letters
  • Bills
  • Checks
  • Receipts
  • Wills
  • Passports
  • Driver's licenses
  • Contracts
  • Lottery tickets
  • Or even ransom notes in a kidnapping case

Purpose of a QDE

So why bother examining a questioned document? There are many reasons. Let's go over a few real-life examples to learn about them.

First, answer this. Would you want someone to publish an unauthorized autobiography about you? Probably not. You also wouldn't want them cashing in on what is your life story.

Back in the 1970s, a couple of crook authors decided to forge a bunch of signatures, notes, letters, and an entire autobiography about the famed reclusive billionaire, Howard Hughes. They were eventually caught. But not so much as a result of a questioned document examination - the examiners failed to detect the fraudulent handwriting. Hughes simply caught wind of this and reported them.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account
Support