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A written or printed instrument that conveys information.

The term document generally refers to a particular writing or instrument that has a bearing upon specific transactions. A deed, a marriage license, and a record of account are all considered to be documents.

When a document is signed and the signature is authentic, the law accurately expresses the state of mind of the individual who signed it. A false document is one of which a material portion is purported to have been made or authorized by someone who did not do so. It can also be a document that is falsely dated or which has allegedly been made by or on behalf of someone who did not in fact exist.

An ancient document is a writing presumed by the court to be genuine due to its antiquity, because it has been produced from a reliable source where it would be logically found, and because it has been carefully kept.

A private document is any instrument executed by a private citizen. A public document is one that is or should legally be readily available for inspection by the public, as a document issued by Congress or a governmental department.

Judicial documents include inquisitions, depositions, examinations, and affidavits.


Ancient Writing.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


n. a popular generic word among lawyers for any paper with writing on it. Technically it could include a piece of wood with a will or message scratched on it. (See: documentary evidence)

Copyright © 1981-2005 by Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen T. Hill. All Right reserved.
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