Forensic Psychology

Forensic Psychology is often defined as the intersection between psychology and the legal system.  The forensic expert may assist legal and mental health professionals working in Federal, State, Criminal, Civil, Immigration, and Juvenile courts.  A Forensic psychologist (expert witness) has earned a Doctorate Degree in Psychology (Ph.D.), completed a one-year internship, received one-year postdoctoral supervision, passed the national licensure written exam, and passed the licensure oral exam required by some State Psychology Boards.  Additionally, before receiving a designation as a Forensic psychologist (expert witness), one must earn certifications from governing agencies such as the American Board of Forensic Psychology and comply with the training requirements specific or particular to the state.  Fox example, in order to conduct Competency To Stand Trial or Sanity Examinations in the state of Texas, the Forensic psychologist (expert witness) or Forensic Psychiatrist is required to complete at least 24-hours of Texas-specific or particular forensic training relating to incompetency or insanity evaluations (Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, 46B.23).  Similarly, Florida statutes mandate that forensic evaluators undergo the training provided by the Department of Children and Family Services before conducting forensic evaluations for criminal or juvenile courts.

The expertise of a Forensic psychologist (expert witness) may be used in a broad number of areas within the Court system.  In criminal court, the psychology expert may give opinions regarding competency to stand trial, prepare pre-sentencing reports, or gather information that may inform mental state at the time of the offense.  In Juvenile courts, the forensic psychologist (expert witness) may conduct general psychological evaluations, Fitness to Stand Trial evaluations, or psychological studies for waiver to adult court.   In the Civil Courts, a Forensic psychologist (expert witness) conducts personal injury evaluations to document the emotional/psychological impact of events such as discrimination, sexual harassment, or domestic violence.

Despite the type of court, the role of a forensic psychologist (expert witness) usually entails one or more of the following: conducting evaluations, giving expert testimony, or consulting with other professionals.

As an evaluator, the Forensic psychologist (expert witness) conducts psycho-legal interviews and psychological testing (e.g., intelligence, personality, trauma, depression, etc.) to respond to the client’s questions.  At the client’s discretion, the forensic psychologist (expert witness) may provide a verbal or written psychological evaluation report.  The psychological report is written in plain language and it is narrow in focus, as it should only include information that concerns the referral question.

As an expert witness, the testimony of the forensic psychologist (expert witness) must convey professionalism, credibility, and mastery of the subject.  The testimony should never be influenced by the expert’s emotions or personal beliefs.  The expert witness must convey that the opinions given are impartial and based on the highest standards of practice.

As a psychology consultant, the expert works for the retaining party.  The purpose of the consulting psychologist is using his training and experience to assist the employer without compromising the professional and ethical standards.  Prior to accepting a case, the consultant should receive a summary of the case, as this would help determine whether the expertise of the forensic psychologist (expert witness) can be of service to the hiring party and could help reduce ethical concerns.

Based in South Florida, Florida Forensic Psychology provides services in all of Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, and other states.