Proceedings during which potential witnesses are questioned by attorneys for the opposing side, under oath and in the presence of a court recorder, although typically away from the courtroom.
Courts that deal only with particular matters, Family matters, drug courts, mental health courts, sexual trafficking courts, and domestic violence courts are all examples.
Two or more parties (litigants) approach the legal system. Often seeking resolution of a dispute
Involves an alleged violation of rules deemed so important that the breaking of them incurs society’s formal punishment, which must be imposed by the criminal courts
Mental health courts
Possible solution to crime - typically minor crimes - committed by individuals with mental disorders
- These crimes are typically trespassing, burglary, public intoxication, petty larceny (shoplifting), or simple assault (shoving or hitting)
Most involve an immediate screening by a mental health clinician or team, which then makes a treatment recommendation to the presiding judge
- Defendants or their guardians may have to consent to go to this specialized court —> avoiding placement in a traditional jail setting is a strong incentive for doing so
Four broad stages of the judicial process
The pretrial stage
In general, a court’s first contact with a criminal case is either at the initial appearance or the arraignment
A body of citizens (usually about 23 in number) that is directed by the prosecutor to weigh evidence and decide whether there is enough to charge a person with a criminal offense.
A court of appearance if an arrested individual is being held in jail rather than released or cited to appear in court at a later date. Its purpose is to review the need for continuing detention. However, it also may apply to the first proceeding before a judge, whether or not the individual was detained.
Court proceeding during which criminal defendants are formally charged with an offense, informed of their rights, and asked to enter a plea.
Numerous decisions may be made during these hearings
They include whether evidence is admissible, a trial should be move because of extensive pretrial publicity, a youth should be transferred to juvenile court, a defendant is competent to stand trial, and bail should be denied because of the alleged dangerousness of the defendant
The pretrial procedure by which one party in a civil or criminal case discloses to the other party information vital for their defense.
A process through which the judge and attorneys question the prospective jurors and possibly disqualify them from jury duty. In some jurisdictions, the questioning can be done only by lawyers.
Role of forensic psychologist at sentencing can be critical
May be asked to evaluate a defendant’s potential for responding favorably to such treatment
May be asked to assess the risk for violent behavior
Presentence investigation (PSI)
Social history, typically prepared by probation officers, that includes information about the offender’s family background, employment history, level of education, substance abuse, criminal history, medical needs, and mental health history. Used by courts for sentencing purposes.
Also called litigation consultants. Professionals, often but not necessarily psychologists, who assist lawyers in such tasks as selecting jurors, preparing witnesses to testify, and identifying effective strategies for the cross-examination (Ex: of children).
Majority of them are psychologists
Two main areas in which trial consultants work
Assisting the lawyer during the trial process
- Help attorneys at a variety of trial-preparation tasks, such as preparing witnesses and making decisions about particular trial strategies.
Trial consultant may coach an individual in how to be a persuasive, confident witness
- Rehearsal of one’s testimony during witness preparation is likely to increase one’s confidence in that testimony —> confidence and accuracy do not necessarily go hand in hand
Guide to help determine whether expert scientific testimony meets criteria established by the U.S. Supreme Court for reliability and relevance.
Replaced an earlier standard (announced in Frye v. United States, 1923)
General acceptance rule
Standard for admitting scientific evidence into court proceedings that allows it if it is generally accepted as valid in the scientific community. This was the essence of the Frye standard that dominated in courts until the late 20th century.
- The expert’s evidence must have been gathered using scientific techniques that had reached a general acceptance in the science field
Why did the Frye standard lose support?
Over the years, the Frye standard lost favor because it was considered too strict, presenting an obstacle to the introduction of evidence that had not yet reached “general acceptance”
What must evidence be?
Evidence must be relevant, reliable, and legally sufficient
The Daubert case applies to
When do judges apply the Daubert standard?
Judges typically apply the Daubert standard only when an attorney challenges the introduction of the evidence
Final question that must be decided by the court. For example, should the expert provide an opinion about whether the defendant was indeed insane (and therefore not responsible) at the time of their crime?
The assessment of risk
Forensic psychologists are very often asked to predict the likelihood that a particular individual will be “dangerous” to themself or to others.
Actuarial risk prediction
Numerical and quantitative
It’s a set list of risk factors that are weighted
Clinical risk prediction
Involves intuition, personal judgment, and personal experience
Structured professional judgment (SPJ)
Relevant to risk assessment, it refers to a mental health practitioner assessing the likelihood of violence by using clinical judgment aided by guidelines. Some risk assessment instruments are developed based on the premise that SPJ has more validity than - or at least as much as - actuarial risk assessment.
Dynamic risk factors
Aspects of a person’s developmental history that change over time, such as attitudes, opinions, and knowledge.
Static risk factors
Aspects of a person’s developmental history that place the person at risk for antisocial activity but that cannot be changed. Examples are parents with a history of criminal activity or the person’s own early-onset of criminal offending. Also called historical factors.
Stable dynamic factors
Although they are changeable, these factors usually change slowly and may take months or even years to change.
Acute dynamic factors
Psychological characteristics that change rapidly (within days, hours, or even minutes) and include such things as mood swings, emotional arousal, and alcohol or other drug-induced effects.