Waiver of jurisdiction refers to the certification and transfer of a juvenile to adult court. A diagnostic study or psychological evaluation of the Defendant is conducted by a Forensic psychologist (expert witness) or Forensic Psychiatrist. However, the evaluations often require the administration of psychological tests of personality, intelligence, adaptive ability, and academic achievement. Depending on the jurisdiction, the purpose of the mental health evaluation may entail assessing for mental illness and mental retardation and exploring the maturity and sophistication of the Defendant. For example, the Texas family Code (54.02 d) states that prior to a hearing for waiver to adult court, the juvenile court shall order and obtain a complete diagnostic study, social evaluation, and full investigation of the child, his circumstances, and the circumstances of the alleged offense. The code also states that in determining whether to proceed with a certification and transfer, the court shall consider the sophistication and maturity of the child.
Within the Juvenile Justice System, the role of the forensic psychologist (expert witness) is not only limited to conducting evaluations for certification and transfer. The role of the forensic expert also includes consulting with other professionals and giving expert testimony.
As a consultant, the forensic expert works for the retaining party. However, for the purpose of certification and transfer evaluations, most psychology experts are retained by the court. In addition to the court appointed expert, the defense and prosecution often are permitted to bring their own experts.
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 gives impartial opinions that are based on the highest standards of practice.
Based in South Florida, Florida Forensic Psychology conducts certification and transfer evaluations in all of Florida, Texas, and other states.