Thought, function, and behaviour; the human mind is the most complex component to our being. It is the role of a psychologist to consistently research, understand and practice upon cognitive processes and know the way in which they manifest. These skills, developed over years of dedicated study and clinical practice, can be an essential ally in a criminal defence case. At Foresight Clinical Services, we provide the most targeted network of chartered psychologist expert witnesses who are working at the top of their field. Here we take a closer look at how a psychology expert witness can benefit a criminal defence case.
Deciding upon the best-suited psychologist expert witness can be a difficult but vital task. In order for the involvement of the psychologist expert witness to hold any weight in court, their specialism must be directly relevant to the case. In some criminal defence cases, a child psychologist expert who is occupied with the study and practice, and therefore has extensive knowledge, of individuals aged 3-15 will be necessary rather than an adult psychologist whose expertise is in substance misuse and addiction management, for example. Where a psychologist expert witness offers commentary on a subject outside of their field of expertise, it can be challenged or rejected by the court.
Solicitors running a criminal defence case will often instruct a psychologist expert witness where a behavioural problem, mental illness, learning disabilities, or neurodevelopmental conditions may have influenced the incriminating activity of a vulnerable individual.
By performing a series of in-depth psychoanalytic tests, alongside the evidence given, a psychologist expert witness can effectively decipher firstly whether there may be any underlying mental or behavioural problems. By addressing these, or previously diagnosed problems and conditions, the psychology expert can draw out the motivation behind the incriminating action and evaluate to what extent the learning difficulty, behavioural problem, or mental health issues have directly influenced the individual. In doing so, they are able to give an opinion as to how much responsibility and what punishment should be assigned to this vulnerable person.
The method by which the psychologist expert witness arrives at their final conclusions and opinion must be documented in a report if their instruction it is to be used and referenced to with any weight in court. The tell of a true expert is to be able to regurgitate jargon-heavy and highly specialised information that is accessible to everyone outside of that field of expertise. In this case, that is the solicitor, judge, and jury. In some circumstances, the nature of the behavioural issues or learning difficulties experienced by the accused will mean that they cannot participate in court proceedings at which point the psychology expert witness can produce a Fitness to Plead report. A psychology report and expert opinion produced by the witness can determine the final decision by the court and ensure a fair trial.
Our psychology expert witnesses always work on time, on budget, and are ‘court ready’. If you require a psychologist expert for your criminal defence case, get in touch with one of our dedicated case managers who can assist you in appointing the best HCPC registered chartered psychology expert witness.