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JB Umphrey
JB Umphrey, Lawyer
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Is the carbon dating of a document accurate enough for a court

Resolved Question:

Is the carbon dating of a document accurate enough for a court case
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  JB Umphrey replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for using JustAnswer!

There is not one reported appellate case in South Carolina which had dealt with carbon dating or radiocarbon dating.

There are ten reported federal cases which make reference to carbon dating. They occur outside of South Caroline. You can review them here: http://tinyurl.com/8yp2odf

It has been my pleasure to assist you today with your information needs. If you have a follow-up question, please reply and ask it.

If you are satisfied that your question has been answered, kindly select the ACCEPT button to close this thread and so that I receive credit for assisting you today.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
My wife passed away in April and my oldest daughter filed for control of the estate. We had some difficulity finding her will. Now that we have the will my daughter is requesting it to be carbon dated even though we have the hand writing expert stating that the will is my wife's handwriting. The will was also witnessed and notarized. I do not understand carbon dating and how it will apply to this case. Any suggestions or cases in south carolina with the same issues?
Expert:  JB Umphrey replied 2 years ago.
Thank you.

As I indicated before, there are no published South Carolina court cases on carbon dating.

The process of radiocarbon dating was developed in the 1950s. It is often used on very historic documents to determine when they were originally created.

It has been reported that radiocarbon dating has an associated uncertainty which inevitably limits the precision of the date. Most radiocarbon laboratories are only capable of giving a date to within an age range of around 30-50 years. Thus it is not realistic to expect a radiocarbon date to be able to date a historical manuscript to a particular calendar year – hence it can never compete on these terms with a historical date.

A paper which discusses this process is found here: http://booknet.wikispaces.com/file/view/Scientific+dating+of+documents.pdf

There should be no harm in having the will subject to radiocarbon dating. It sounds like your daughter is grasping for straws. Although, if she wants that testing performed, she should bear 100% of those testing costs.

If you have a follow-up question, please reply and ask it.

If you are satisfied that your question has been answered, kindly select the ACCEPT button to close this thread and so that I receive credit for assisting you today.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
What's a rough estimate of the cost of having a paper carbon dated?
Expert:  JB Umphrey replied 2 years ago.
The cost varies amongst the different labs. It will likely cost a couple of hundred dollars for a test. It will cost more if she wants one of the scientists to come to court and testify on their testing/results.

If you are satisfied that your question has been answered, kindly select the ACCEPT button to close this thread and so that I receive credit for assisting you today.
JB Umphrey, Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 20232
Experience: Handling criminal and probation matters for over 14 years.
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