Forensic Assessment Topics

Forensic assessment is a part of the broader category of psychological assessment. The purpose of forensic assessment is distinct from that of traditional therapeutic assessment, and as such forensic evaluators have different training and practice guidelines. The settings in which forensic evaluations occur are vast, including law enforcement, correctional, and civil and criminal court settings. Forensic assessment may include traditional psychological assessments and specially designed forensic measures. Read more about Forensic Assessment.

Forensic Assessment Topics

Forensic assessment can be involved at all levels of criminal proceedings, starting with evaluations of a defendant’s capacity to waive Miranda rights at the time of arrest and concluding with evaluations of a defendant’s competency to be sentenced or competency to be executed. Forensic assessment is most commonly requested in criminal cases to evaluate a defendant’s competency to stand trial, with approximately 60,000 such evaluations performed annually. Evaluations of a defendant’s criminal responsibility (insanity defense evaluations) are probably the second most common question posed in criminal forensic assessment, although the insanity defense is raised in less than 1% of all felony cases. Sometimes, competency to stand trial and criminal responsibility are confused, and the terms are used interchangeably. Competency-to-stand-trial evaluations focus on a defendant’s current mental functioning, whereas criminal responsibility evaluations focus on the defendant’s mental state at the time of the offense. Other types of criminal forensic assessment include evaluations of competence to waive counsel and competence to plead guilty.

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