Criminal Law sees a vast and ever-varied scope of criminal activity and behaviours. It is the task of a forensic psychologist expert witness to make sense of it, extract the motivations, and understand what risk the accused poses to themselves or to others. Undoubtedly, the appointment of a forensic psychologist expert witness can offer invaluable evidence which used by the solicitor and shared with the court will support fair trial. With wellbeing and mental health awareness given its much needed precedence in the courts, the demand for forensic psychologist expert witnesses is ever-increasing. As providers of the most targeted network of UK forensic psychologist expert witnesses, we are more than familiar with their benefits and want to share these with you in our blog.
A forensic psychologist’s knowledge and experience is not only beneficial to a criminal defence case, it is often necessary. Psychology is a complex and intricate discipline in which forensic psychology sits as one of the most challenging specialties. In a career focused upon psychological assessments of criminals, forensic offender profiling, and research into the volatile internal prison systems, a forensic psychologist expert witness is equipped with the acutely relevant skills to assist in a criminal defence case.
Throughout their professional lives forensic psychologist experts will have researched, diagnosed, and treated individuals whose behavioural problems have made them vulnerable to criminal activity. When a forensic psychologist expert witness is instructed, they will perform a series of thorough psychological assessments from which they can determine any undiagnosed behavioural problems. Then, by mapping the manifestations of the behavioural problem, the forensic psychologist can determine the motivations behind the criminal activity. Shared with the solicitor and the court, this information can support fair trial and prevent the miscarriage of justice.
Perhaps the greatest benefit of a forensic psychologist expert witness is the psychology report. A comprehensive document, the forensic psychology report details the assessments carried out by the forensic psychologist expert witness, their evaluation of the existing evidence, and their professional conclusions. Notably, the report is written for its audience of non-experts; without specialist jargon but with precise detail. The forensic psychology report can be used directly by the solicitor to form and strengthen their criminal defence case. It can also be shared with the court which will further benefit the case since the judge and jury can make an informed final decision.
When agreed within their expert witness fees, the forensic psychologist can offer their expert opinion in court. Drawing on the evidence provided in the psychology report and their full understanding of the case, the forensic psychologist expert witness can outline their professional opinion on how they believe the court should proceed in sentencing with regards to the mental health and associated risks of the accused. They may note for example, whether the individual is vulnerable to self-harm, violence towards others, in need of routine psychological treatment, or if indeed the criminal activity was done with malicious intent or rather as a consequence of their psychological problems.
Time is a luxury not often experienced by solicitors. When an individual’s mental health or cognitive function is fundamental to a criminal defence case, it is essential that the solicitor understand in exactly what way, and to what extent psychological factors have influenced the given criminal activity. Another benefit of appointing a forensic psychologist expert witness is their ability to immediately access their profound backlog of knowledge. It would require the solicitor to spend significant amounts of time researching this complex discipline. In doing so, it is unlikely that they could find the same crucial evidence – nor are they qualified to conduct psychological assessments.
Finding a suitable psychology expert witness can be a stressful and time-consuming process for solicitors. In a previous blog, you can see 6 questions to get started in finding the best psychologist expert witness for your case. Alternatively, let the dedicated case managers at Foresight take on the task for you. Receive targeted CVs within 24hours of your enquiry. Get in touch today.