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Forensic Psychology

Expert witnesses are often called into legal situations to make evaluations on people and give advice to police authorities. This form of evaluation proves extremely helpful in understanding the criminal mind and determining who is eligible for court and who is not. Culpability cases are also called into question and evaluated by forensic psychologists. Many police departments have in-house forensic psychologists as permanent assistants in cases being worked by homicide and sex-crime detectives.

Analyzing people in relation to the law

Many law situations require a psychic evaluation of the individuals involved. There are many examples of this, but here are just a few:

  • A serial killer who has a set of victims has a motif. If that motif can be figured out, it can help police capture the killer.
  • A person who has certain tendencies may be more likely to have committed a crime. If those tendencies are exposed (such as aggression, sexual addiction, etc) police can take more steps to investigate deeper.
  • Someone who is being abused but refuses to mention it can be taken out of danger if a forensic psychologist reads signs of the abuse.

Expert witnesses

Forensic psychologists are often called to testify in court. A psychological profile can be presented to the court to help the judge or jury make a more educated decision. If the court has a better understanding of who a person is and what motivates them, they can make decisions based on modern studies of psychology.

Culpability evaluations

Even though the final decision lies with a judge, he or she may call on a forensic psychologist to determine whether or not a person is eligible to testify or stand trial. In many western countries, for instance, someone who has an IQ of lower than seventy is considered mentally retarded; which therefore calls into question whether that person may stand trial or act as a witness. Children are also often evaluated by forensic psychologists to determine their various positions in a legal matter.

There is an important role to play in our criminal justice system and forensic psychologists fill that role well. Police are better equipped when they understand the mind of a criminal or a victim. The truth is easier to find when evaluations are made and people are better understood. It is no wonder that many police officers and detectives are also taking on this skill to improve their efficiency at police work.