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Articles on Forensic Psychiatry

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3/11/2015 · Psychology
Forensic psychological evaluations have become a valuable resource for the criminal justice system by addressing important forensic questions. For instance, assessing risk for violence can help courts make appropriate decisions on issues such as sentencing, granting privileges, and community reintegration. If an individual is assessed to be a high risk for future violence, a judge has grounds to order a more restrictive setting compared to someone who is a lower risk for recidivism. By tailoring court decisions based on accurate psychological evaluations, the community is safer while the defendant's rights are also protected.

Catastrophic accidents often lead to claims for severe emotional distress including allegations of post-traumatic stress disorder ("PTSD"). Similarly, allegations of acute neuropsychological disorders and fear of cancer can follow environmental releases and toxic exposures. So, too, with product liability claims and even claims from entire "classes" of individual employees. A single incident or condition may produce thousands of claims.

It is a matter of utmost importance that an even playing field be created in adversarial proceedings. What is conducive to this is use of forensic guidelines as standards by all experts involved in a case.

Forensic psychiatry is a medical subspecialty of psychiatry. Its focus is the interface between the law and behavioral medicine. Like the law, forensic psychiatry is divided into various sections. According to the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPN):

The problem of false confession is alarming. Just after publication by Barry Scheck in his text on and his writings on DNA and establishment of the Innocence Project, he found 77 wrongful convictions and individuals wrongfully imprisoned in California.

Although federal and state laws prohibit employment discrimination against individuals with physical and mental disabilities and require an employer to make reasonable accommodations for both kinds of disabilities, interpreting and implementing the law with regard to mental disabilities has proven very difficult.

Wills are generally contested either on the grounds that the testator lacked Testamentary Capacity (was incompetent to make a will at the time of signing it) or the testator, because of his/her mental state, was subject to Undue Influence (i.e. if there is evidence of coercion, manipulation, deception, compulsion, intimidation, etc.) or an Undue Influence secondary to a thought disturbance (such as delusions affecting the testator's free will in making decisions).