As the UK becomes ever more aware and conscious of mental well-being and behavioural disorders, so too have the courts; it need not surprise us that there is such an emphasis placed on the protection of vulnerable individuals. Whether in a civil or criminal case it is increasingly important that the psychological soundness of those involved is assessed and considered when necessary. By the nature of their career, psychology expert witnesses have dedicated their lives to researching and understanding the human psyche, with a focus on behavioural disorders, motivations for actions and cognitive issues. It therefore understandable that someone with such experience and expertise can add a great deal of weight to a criminal or civil case.
Psychology expert witnesses have a role to play in both civil and criminal cases. They may for example conduct a ‘parent screening’ in a divorce case, with the aim of determining which parent would offer a better home to their children in custody cases. In a criminal case the psychologist’s role differs entirely, as they will be asked to conduct a series of consultations and psychological examinations in order to discover the motivations behind a crime. By assessing the defendant’s intent, coupled with whether they have a mental disorder, the psychologist expert witness can accurately determine the mens rea of the crime. This can include an IQ examination in order to ascertain how susceptible an individual is to the influence of others. In turn, this will lead to a fairer trial and sentence in certain cases.
Indeed, some experts have more experience in certain areas, such as a forensic psychologist. Their expertise are more acutely focused on profiling criminal offenders as they have vast experience in the assessment of criminals and prison systems. The psychology expert witnesses use their expertise to assess cases and produce comprehensive reports which they can deliver in court or pass on to a solicitor.
The reports that psychology expert witnesses produce differ greatly as to the nature of the case they are working on. One report may determine whether an individual has the capacity to partake in court proceedings, whereas another may be a cognitive development assessment, crucial to understanding the mens rea of a case. All psychology reports for court will document the evaluation of existing evidence, the methodology of any client assessments, and the conclusions drawn by the psychologist expert witness. Often due to the nature of psychology it can take some time for the expert to produce a report. Therefore, when hiring an expert witness through a provider it is crucial that you ensure their report is produced in time to prepare your case for court.
When a solicitor instructs a psychologist expert witness it is crucial that the individual they instruct has the necessary credentials. Some psychologists are not registered with the Health and Care Professional Council (HCPC), and though they are allowed to practice they are not protected by UK law. By hiring a psychologist with a title such as Practitioner Psychologist, Clinical Psychologist and Occupational Psychologist you can be assured that their credentials are sound and legally protected, for a full list of these titles click here. By instructing a registered psychologist, a solicitor can rest assured that their expertise is guaranteed and that their reputation and involvement in the case holds weight and is respected by the court.
The role of a psychology expert witness is as varied as the field of psychology itself. By researching the case thoroughly and providing their own conclusions, these experts can truly add a great deal of weight to a case. They are unrivalled in their ability to interpret behaviour, motivations and the cognitive issues of a suspect or witness. Our dedicated case managers can aid you in finding the right psychology expert witness for your case by sending you the CVs of a select few from our extensive network. Get in touch today if your case requires such an expert.