Forensic psychological evaluations are a valuable resource to a wide range of legal matters. Informing the court about the defendant's mental health functioning can have important implications to maintain the defendant's rights, advise sentencing or treatment recommendations, and promote safety.
Current best practices recommend that forensic psychological evaluations include a clinical interview with the defendant, comprehensive record review, objective psychological testing, and information from collateral sources. This is the standard I follow in conducting forensic evaluations.
Forensic Neuropsychology is the application of neuropsychological evaluation to any of the domains listed above. A defendant's neuropsychological functioning can have significant implications in the legal arena. Standard forensic psychological evaluations do not encompass neuropsychological testing. However, a defendant's intellectual and cognitive functioning may greatly inform the legal system and its outcomes -- of information that can be missed in a standard forensic evaluation.
Below are some examples in which a neuropsychological evaluation may be useful in a legal case. A comprehensive neuropsychological evaluation can be applied to any of the forensic specialty areas identified above.
After a review of case information, we would determine the appropriate route of evaluation to answer the legal question.
An older adult may be exhibiting signs of dementia and their ability to work with their attorney may therefore be hampered. Results from neuropsychological evaluation can also guide recommendations for competence restoration.
Defendant's must be deemed competent to be executed. A deficit in intellectual and/or cognitive functioning may impede a defendant's ability to have a factual and rational understanding of their execution.
A comprehensive evaluation of the adolescent's cognitive, behavioral, and personality functioning can inform determinations of waiver of juvenile court.
An injury sustained on the job may have resulted in trauma to the head/brain. A comprehensive neuropsychological evaluation can help understand whether any cognitive deficits were sustained subsequent to the injury, how severe the deficits may be, and the anticipated recovery of the injury.
Check out this short clip about the use of Neuropsychological Evaluations in the Forensic Setting
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