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Forensic Accounting and Fraud Investigation for Non-Experts, 3rd Edition by Michael Sheetz, Howard Silverstone, Frank Rudewicz, Stephen Pedneault

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CHAPTER 11

Proving Cases through Documentary Evidence

Introduction

We prove all cases through evidence. In general, we divide evidence into two categories—direct and circumstantial. In addition to these two categories of evidence, we classify evidence according to its nature. For example, we classify actual witness testimony on the stand in open court as testimonial evidence. The statements that you obtained during your investigation are documentary evidence, as are canceled checks, bank statements, and photographs of suspect transactions. Additionally, since hundreds of canceled checks are often difficult to comprehend as they sit in piles, attorneys prepare charts and schedules to assist jurors in understanding the big picture. We call these schedules and charts demonstrative evidence. Finally, we refer to physical objects, like guns, knives, and fingerprints, as real evidence. It is through these different classes of evidence that attorneys prove that something did or did not occur.

The difference between financial crimes and nonfinancial crimes is the composition of the evidence. Prosecutors often use real evidence such as fingerprints and tool-mark comparisons to prove crimes such as murder and burglary. Sometimes, documentary evidence like pawn receipts and photographs become important in these cases, but generally they are non-document-based cases. Conversely, financial crimes are very document heavy.

Because of this difference, investigators often must confront huge volumes ...

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