As qualified doctors specialised in being able to demystify and understand the human mind, psychiatrists are best appointed to act as expert witness when a suspected mental illness has caused or influenced criminal activity. Solicitors will often instruct a psychiatric expert witness to strengthen their criminal defence case due to their specialist research areas and clinical practice. Foresight are providers of the largest network of industry-leading psychiatrist expert witnesses. Here we share how a psychiatric expert witness can benefit a criminal defence case.
With full medical training then specialising in psychiatry, a psychiatrist has dedicated years of their life to research, education, and supervised clinical practice in order to gain their professional title. Using their expertise, an appointed psychiatrist expert witness is able to assess the mental health of the offending individual alongside evidence from the incriminating event. These assessments can shine significant light on the actions of the offender to the appointed solicitor of a criminal defence case.
Where misdiagnosis or missed diagnosis has occurred, it can be hugely detrimental to the incriminated, yet vulnerable, individual. A mental illness or disorder that is not realised by the court can unjustly influence the court proceedings and ultimately, the final decision of judge and jury. A psychiatry expert can produce an accurate diagnosis of a mental illness, such as psychosis, schizophrenia, or acute depression. Alongside a comprehensive analysis of how the illness manifests, their diagnosis is essential to a fair trial. Only a qualified psychiatrist is able to provide this diagnosis which can then be presented to the solicitor and the court.
There is little supported evidence of a correlation between mental illness and criminal behaviour. However, where a person with a mental disorder has committed a crime, it is crucial that the court and the solicitor understand whether the offending individual was in fact a victim of their mental health. Whilst a psychology expert witness will offer an in-depth analysis of a person’s cognitive motivation surrounding the offending activity, the psychiatrist expert will be able to use their diagnosis to decipher how the associated mental health traits may have significantly influenced the individual’s actions. This is a weighted and deciding factor when it comes to the final charges.
As is their level of expertise, a psychiatric report on an individual may often be lengthy and jargon infused. Instructing a psychiatric expert witness with Foresight Clinical Services means that you will be provided with a comprehensive, but entirely accessible report which is informative and well-structured, without being loaded with niche and hyper-technical language. The report can then be used directly by the solicitor to piece together their criminal defence case, and be presented in court. We will always deliver the psychiatric report within four weeks of formal instruction but should you require the report quicker, we can ensure that deadline is met without compromising on the quality.
In addition to providing invaluable information in report form, the psychiatrist expert can also perform as a witness in court with the right to an official medical opinion. Due to their professional standing, the opinion of the psychiatry expert witness is respected and recognised by the court. They can also give their medical expert opinion on where and how an individual should serve their sentence, i.e. in prison or a secure psychiatric hospital with residential mental health care which aims to treat, rather than punish offenders.
Instructing a psychiatric expert is often crucial to ensuring a fair trial for vulnerable offenders. If you require a psychiatry expert witness for your case, get in touch with one of our case managers for a free consultation.