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Forensic Psychological Evaluation in Criminal Courts

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Running head: forensic psychological evaluation in criminal courts

Forensic psychological evaluation in criminal courts





Psychology is the study of a person's level of normalcy hence psychological evaluations is the act of proving one's level of normalcy through observing of his actions. A person's actions are influenced by various factors like health, environment, and stress levels. These factors have a significant influence on one's actions in different ways. The introduction of forensic science has brought about an understanding on what a person may or might be going through so as to act in a particular way. Forensic psychological evaluation has been incorporated in the criminal justice system to help in the judgment and clearly distort any doubt on the offender's state of normalcy at the time of crime. This article looks at the various psychological evaluations competences that may be carried out in order to help in criminal cases both to the prosecutorial and defense teams of the suspect as well as the final judgment of the case. We do also look at the similarities and the differences of these competences as well as where and why they are applied in certain situations.


There are various ways of conducting forensic psychological evaluation concerning criminal cases. These help aid to strengthen the prosecution evidence by the prosecutor or render it unreliable when used by the defense. They include; fitness to proceed to trial, fitness to execution and fitness to pleading guilty.

1. Fitness to proceed:

This is where the accused has to understand the actual facts of why he is in trail and also be in a position to help his lawyer in his own defense. A forensic psychologist will help determine whether the accused is not insane while in trial. This may be done through questionnaires and acute observation of the accused on or before trial begins. It was used in Dusky v United States, 362 U.S.402 (1960).

2. Fitness to execution.

The accused has the right to be fully competent as to why he is being executed. This though puts the psychologist as a medical practitioner at loggerheads with his medical profession. This is because he is like preparing the accused to die through execution. This is mostly the case in trials where the accused portrays him as not understanding why he should be executed. It was done in` Ford v



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