Forensic psychiatry is a subspeciality of psychiatry and is related to criminology.[1] It encompasses the interface between law and psychiatry. According to the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, it is defined as "a subspecialty of psychiatry in which scientific and clinical expertise is applied in legal contexts involving civil, criminal, correctional, regulatory, or legislative matters, and in specialized clinical consultations in areas such as risk assessment or employment.[2]" A forensic psychiatrist provides services – such as determination of competency to stand trial – to a court of law to facilitate the adjudicative process and provide treatment, such as medications and psychotherapy, to criminals.

Court work edit

Forensic psychiatrists work with courts in evaluating an individual's competency to stand trial, defenses based on mental disorders (e.g., the insanity defense), and sentencing recommendations. The two major areas of criminal evaluations in forensic psychiatry are competency to stand trial (CST) and mental state at the time of the offense (MSO).

Competency to stand trial edit

Competency to stand trial (CST) is the competency evaluation to determine that defendants have the mental capacity to understand the charges and assist their attorneys. In the United States, this is seated in the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which ensures the right to be present at one's trial, to face one's accusers, and to have help from an attorney. CST, sometimes referred to as adjudicative competency, serves three purposes: "preserving the dignity of the criminal process, reducing the risk of erroneous convictions, and protecting defendants' decision-making autonomy".[3]

In 1960, the Supreme Court of the United States in Dusky v. United States established the standard for federal courts, ruling that "the test must be whether the defendant has sufficient present ability to consult with his attorney with a reasonable degree of rational understanding and a rational as well as factual understanding of proceedings against him." The evaluations must assess a defendant's ability to assist their legal counsel, meaning that they understand the legal charges against them, the implications of being a defendant, and the adversarial nature of the proceedings, including the roles played by defense counsel, prosecutors, judges, and the jury. They must be able to communicate relevant information to their attorney, and understand information provided by their attorney. Finally, they must be competent to make important decisions, such as whether or not to accept a plea agreement.[3]

In England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland, a similar legal concept is that of "fitness to plead".

As an expert witness edit

Forensic psychiatrists are often called to be expert witnesses in both criminal and civil proceedings. Expert witnesses give their opinions about a specific issue. Often, the psychiatrist will have prepared a detailed report before testifying. The primary duty of the expert witness is to provide an independent opinion to the court. An expert is allowed to testify in court with respect to matters of opinion only when the matters in question are not ordinarily understandable to the finders of fact, be they judge or jury. As such, prominent leaders in the field of forensic psychiatry, from Thomas Gutheil[4] to Robert Simon and Liza Gold[5] and others[6] have identified teaching as a critical dimension in the role of expert witness. The expert will be asked to form an opinion and to testify about that opinion, but in so doing will explain the basis for that opinion, which will include important concepts, approaches, and methods used in psychiatry.

Mental state opinion edit

Mental state opinion (MSO) gives the court an opinion, and only an opinion, as to whether a defendant was able to understand what he/she was doing at the time of the crime. This is worded differently in many states, and has been rejected altogether in some, but in every setting, the intent to do a criminal act and the understanding of the criminal nature of the act bear on the final disposition of the case. Much of forensic psychiatry is guided by significant court rulings or laws that bear on this area which include these three standards:[7]

  • M'Naghten rules: Excuses a defendant who, by virtue of a defect of reason or disease of the mind, does not know the nature and quality of the act, or, if he or she does, does not know that the act is indeed wrong.[8]
  • Durham rule: Excuses a defendant whose conduct is the product of mental disorder.[9]
  • ALI test: Excuses a defendant who, because of a mental disease or defect, lacks substantial capacity to appreciate the criminality (wrongfulness) of his or her conduct or to conform his conduct to the requirements of law.[10]

"Not guilty by reason of insanity" (NGRI) is one potential outcome in this type of trial. Importantly, insanity is a legal and not a medical term. Often, psychiatrists may be testifying for both the defense and the prosecution.

Forensic psychiatrists are also involved in the care of prisoners, both in jails and prisons, and in the care of the mentally ill who have committed criminal acts (such as those who have been found not guilty by reason of insanity).

Forensic psychiatry vs psychology edit

Forensic psychiatry edit

Forensic psychiatrists focus on how biology applies to the legal system. They focus more on the scientific facts as well as diagnosing and treating mental disorders. They legally assess clients, provide a diagnosis, and can prescribe medication if necessary. They are licensed medical doctors (MD) that make roughly $190,000 annually.[citation needed]

Forensic psychology edit

Forensic psychologists examine how different disorders and conditions can apply in court. Their jobs typically entail working as research assistants and probation officers. They often determine trial competency, assess the risk of inmates, and aid in jury selection. Forensic psychologists can use information learned about mental health and criminal justice to advocate for those who are mentally ill. After earning a master's and a PhD in psychology or a Doctor of Psychology, PsyD, they can become forensic psychologists. While they are required to be licensed by the state, they are not required to be medical doctors. This means that they cannot prescribe medication. Forensic psychologists make roughly $67,000 annually.[11]

Risk management edit

Many past offenders against other people, and suspected or potential future offenders with mental health problems or an intellectual or developmental disability, are supervised in the community by forensic psychiatric teams made up of a variety of professionals, including psychiatrists, psychologists, nurses, and care workers. These teams have dual responsibilities: to promote both the welfare of their clients and the safety of the public. The aim is not so much to predict as to prevent violence, by means of risk management.

Risk assessment and management is a growth area in the forensic field, with much Canadian academic work being done in Ontario and British Columbia. This began with the attempt to predict the likelihood of a particular kind of offense being repeated, by combining "static" indicators from personal history and offense details in actuarial instruments such as the RRASOR and Static-99,[12] which were shown to be more accurate than unaided professional judgment. More recently, use is being made also of "dynamic" risk factors, such as attitudes, impulsivity, mental state, family and social circumstances, substance use, and the availability and acceptance of support, to make a "structured professional judgment." The aim of this is to move away from prediction to prevention, by identifying and then managing risk factors. This may entail monitoring, treatment, rehabilitation, supervision, and victim safety planning and depends on the availability of funding and legal powers.

Risk management in forensic psychiatry is often done using standardised tests called structured professional judgement tools. Two such tools include the HCR-20[13] and the newer SAPROF developed in the late 2010s.[14][15] These tools are used to measure the likelihood of recidivism and identify protective factors for offenders.

United Kingdom edit

In the UK, most forensic psychiatrists work for the National Health Service, in specialist secure units caring for mentally ill offenders (as well as people whose behaviour has made them impossible to manage in other hospitals). These can be either medium secure units (of which there are many throughout the country) or high secure hospitals (also known as special hospitals), of which three are in England and one in Scotland (the State Hospital, Carstairs), the best known of which is Broadmoor Hospital. The other 'specials' are Ashworth hospital in Maghull, Liverpool, and Rampton hospital in Nottinghamshire. Also, a number of private-sector medium secure units sell their beds exclusively to the NHS, as not enough secure beds are available in the NHS system.

Forensic psychiatrists often also do prison inreach work, in which they go into prisons and assess and treat people suspected of having mental disorders; much of the day-to-day work of these psychiatrists comprises care of very seriously mentally ill patients,[citation needed] especially those with schizophrenia. Some units also treat people with severe personality disorder or learning disabilities. The areas of assessment for courts are also somewhat different in Britain, because of differing mental health law. Fitness to plead and mental state at the time of the offence are indeed issues given consideration, but the mental state at the time of trial is also a major issue, and this assessment most commonly leads to the use of mental health legislation to detain people in hospitals, as opposed to their getting a prison sentence.[citation needed]

Learning-disabled offenders who are a continuing risk to others may be detained in learning-disability hospitals (or specialised community-based units with a similar regimen, as the hospitals have mostly been closed). This includes those who commit serious crimes of violence, including sexual violence, and fire-setting. They would be cared for by learning disability psychiatrists and registered learning disability nurses. Some psychiatrists doing this work have dual training in learning disability and forensic psychiatry or learning disability and adolescent psychiatry. Some nurses would have training in mental health, also.[citation needed]

Court work (medicolegal work) is generally undertaken as private work by psychiatrists (most often forensic psychiatrists), as well as forensic and clinical psychologists, who usually also work within the NHS. This work is generally funded by the Legal Services Commission (used to be called Legal Aid).[citation needed]

United States edit

Forensic psychiatrists typically work with attorneys and judges. Their purpose is to mediate psychiatric-legal issues that require a more professional perspective. Their scope of practice also includes helping their clients improve their mental status. A few duties that are typically expected of a forensic psychiatrist include determining readiness for parole, conducting assessments to determine any mental issues, evaluating injuries and their effects on the client, and determining competency. All of these tasks have one thing in common: their main focus is on evaluating capacity and competence.[citation needed]

These workers play an important role in combating the phenomenon of "double revolving doors" between hospitals and prisons. Many mentally ill patients will rotate between hospitals and prisons because they are not getting the help they need. Legal decisions affecting psychiatric patients are not made lightly and require an in-depth analysis of anyone involved. Forensic psychiatrists have a background in both the medical aspect of psychiatry as well as the legal aspects of a courtroom.[citation needed]

Canada edit

Criminal law framework edit

In Canada, certain credentialed medical practitioners may, at their discretion, make state-sanctioned investigations into and diagnosis of mental illness.[citation needed] Appropriate use of the DSM-IV-TR is discussed in its section entitled "Use of the DSM-IV-TR in Forensic Settings".

Concerns have been expressed [citation needed] that the Canadian criminal justice system discriminates based on DSM IV diagnosis within the context of Part XX of the Criminal Code.[16] This part sets out provisions for, among other things, court ordered attempts at "treatment" before individuals receive a trial as described in section 672.58 of the Criminal Code. Also provided for are court ordered "psychiatric assessments". Critics have also expressed concerns [citation needed] that use of the DSM-IV-TR may conflict with section 2(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees the fundamental freedom of "thought, belief, opinion, and expression".

Confidentiality edit

The position of the Canadian Psychiatric Association holds, "in recent years, serious incursions have been made by governments, powerful commercial interests, law enforcement agencies, and the courts on the rights of persons to their privacy." It goes on to state, "breaches or potential breaches of confidentiality in the context of therapy seriously jeopardize the quality of the information communicated between patient and psychiatrist and also compromise the mutual trust and confidence necessary for effective therapy to occur."[17]

An outline of the forensic psychiatric process as it occurs in the province of Ontario is presented in the publication The Forensic Mental Health System In Ontario: An Information Guide[18] published by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto. The Guide states: "Whatever you tell a forensic psychiatrist and the other professionals assessing you is not confidential." The Guide further states: "The forensic psychiatrist will report to the court using any available information, such as: police and hospital records, information given by your friends, family or co-workers, observations of you in the hospital." Also according to the Guide: "You have the right to refuse to take part in some or all of the assessment. Sometimes your friends or family members will be asked for information about you. They have the right to refuse to answer questions, too."[19]

Of note, the emphasis in the guide is on the right to refuse participation. This may seem unusual given that a result of a verdict of "Not Criminally Responsible by reason of Mental Disorder" is often portrayed as desirable to the defence, similar to the insanity defense in the United States. A verdict of "Not Criminally Responsible" is referred to as a "defence" by the Criminal Code.[20] However, the issue of the accused's mental state can also be raised by the Crown or by the court itself, rather than solely by the defence counsel, differentiating it from many other legal defences.[21]

Treatment/assessment conflict edit

In Ontario, a court-ordered inpatient forensic assessment for criminal responsibility typically involves both treatment and assessment being performed with the accused in the custody of a single multidisciplinary team over a 30- or 60-day period.[citation needed] Concerns have been expressed that an accused may feel compelled on ethical, medical, or legal grounds to divulge information, medical, or otherwise, to assessors in an attempt to allow for and ensure safe and appropriate treatment during that period of custody.[citation needed]

Some Internet references address treatment/assessment conflict as it relates to various justice systems, particularly civil litigation in other jurisdictions.[22][23] The American Academy Of Psychiatry and the Law states in its ethics guidelines, "when a treatment relationship exists, such as in correctional settings, the usual physician-patient duties apply", which may be seen as contradiction.[24]

South Africa edit

In South Africa, patients are referred for observation for a period of 30 days by the courts if questions exist as to CST and MSO. Serious crimes require a panel, which may include two or more psychiatrists. Should the courts find the defendant not criminally responsible, the defendant may become a state patient and be admitted in a forensic psychiatric hospital.[25] They are referred to receive treatment for an indefinite period, but most were back in the community after three years.[26]

Educational requirements edit

A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who has completed undergraduate school, medical school, and residency training. Forensic psychiatrists typically have additional training that is relevant to the job they hold (such as a focus in child/adolescent, geriatric, or addiction). Many forensic psychiatrists will complete a more specific training after their residency in a related area. This training typically lasts another one or two years. [27] Because they have earned a doctorate in medicine (MD), they are able to both diagnose and treat disorders related to their mental state. They are also able to prescribe medication.

Training standards edit

Some practitioners of forensic psychiatry have taken extra training in that specific area. In the United States, one-year fellowships are offered in this field to psychiatrists who have completed their general psychiatry training. Such psychiatrists may then be eligible to sit for a board certification examination in forensic psychiatry. In Britain, one is required to complete a three-year subspeciality training in forensic psychiatry, after completing one's general psychiatry training, before receiving a Certificate of Completion of Training as a forensic psychiatrist. In some countries, general psychiatrists can practice forensic psychiatry, as well. However, other countries, such as Japan, require a specific certification from the government to do this type of work.

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ Howells, Kevin; Day, Andrew; Thomas-Peter, Brian (September 2004). "Changing violent behaviour: Forensic mental health and criminological models compared". Journal of Forensic Psychiatry & Psychology. 15 (3): 391–406. doi:10.1080/14788940410001655907. S2CID 143889768.
  2. ^ "Ethics Guidelines | AAPL – American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law". Retrieved 2019-11-20.
  3. ^ a b Hoge, StevenK (2016). "Competence to stand trial: An overview". Indian Journal of Psychiatry. 58 (6): S187–S190. doi:10.4103/0019-5545.196830. PMC 5282614. PMID 28216768.
  4. ^ Gutheil, Thomas G. (2009). The Psychiatrist as Expert Witness (2nd ed.). American Psychiatric Publishing. ISBN 978-1585623426.
  5. ^ Simon, Robert and Liza Gold, ed. (2010). American Psychiatric Textbook of Forensic Psychiatry. American Psychiatric Publishing. ISBN 978-1585622641.
  6. ^ Sadoff, Robert (2011-02-07). Ethical Issues in Forensic Psychiatry. Minimizing Harm. John Wiley and Sons, Inc. p. 102. ISBN 978-0470670132.
  7. ^ Bursztajn, Harold J.; Scherr, Albert E.; Brodsky, Archie (September 1994). "The Rebirth Of Forensic Psychiatry in Light Of Recent Historical Trends in Criminal Responsibility". Psychiatric Clinics of North America. 17 (3): 611–635. doi:10.1016/S0193-953X(18)30104-7. PMID 7824386.
  8. ^ M'Naghten's Case, 8 Eng. Rep. 718 (1843)
  9. ^ Durham v. United States, 214 f.2d 862 (D.C. Cir. 1954), overruled in U.S. v. Brawner, 471 f.2d 969 (D.C. Cir. 1972)
  10. ^ Model Penal Code, Sec. 4.01 (1)
  11. ^ de Vogel, Vivienne; de Ruiter, Corine (March 2004). "Differences between clinicians and researchers in assessing risk of violence in forensic psychiatric patients". Journal of Forensic Psychiatry & Psychology. 15 (1): 145–164. doi:10.1080/14788940410001655916. ISSN 1478-9949.
  12. ^ "The RRASOR, Static-99R and Static-2002R All Add Incrementally to the Prediction of Recidivism among Sex Offenders". 2018-12-21. Retrieved 2019-11-20.
  13. ^ Buchanan, Alec (November 2001). "HCR-20. Assessing risk for violence, version 2. By C. Webster, K. Douglas, D. Eaves and S. Hart. Mental Health, Law and Policy Institute, British Columbia. 1997. 98 + vii pp". Criminal Behaviour and Mental Health. 11 (S1): S77–S78. doi:10.1002/cbm.437. ISSN 0957-9664.
  14. ^ de Vries Robbé, Michiel; de Vogel, Vivienne; de Spa, Eva (July 2011). "Protective Factors for Violence Risk in Forensic Psychiatric Patients: A Retrospective Validation Study of the SAPROF". International Journal of Forensic Mental Health. 10 (3): 178–186. doi:10.1080/14999013.2011.600232. ISSN 1499-9013.
  15. ^ Burghart, Matthias; de Ruiter, Corine; Hynes, Sophia E.; Krishnan, Nishant; Levtova, Yara; Uyar, Abdo (January 2023). "The Structured Assessment of Protective Factors for violence risk (SAPROF): A meta-analysis of its predictive and incremental validity". Psychological Assessment. 35 (1): 56–67. doi:10.1037/pas0001184. ISSN 1939-134X. PMID 36227302.
  16. ^ Criminal Code, RSC 1985, c C-46, Part XX.1.
  17. ^ Canadian Psychiatric Association, The Confidentiality of Psychiatric Records and the Patient's Right to Privacy(2000-21S)
  18. ^ Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, The Forensic Mental Health System in Ontario: An Information Guide.
  19. ^ Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, "What Happens Inside the Forensic Mental Health System?"
  20. ^ Criminal Code, RSC 1985, c C-46, s 16, "defence of mental disorder".
  21. ^ Criminal Code, RSC 1985, c C-46, ss 672.11, 672.12.
  22. ^ Woody, Robert Henley (23 January 2009). "Ethical Considerations of Multiple Roles in Forensic Services". Ethics & Behavior. 19 (1): 79–87. doi:10.1080/10508420802623690. S2CID 144431004.
  23. ^ West, Sara; Friedman, Susan H. (1 May 2007). "To Be or Not to Be: Treating Psychiatrist and Expert Witness". Psychiatry Times. Retrieved 12 December 2017.
  24. ^ American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, "Ethics Guidelines for the Practice of Forensic Psychiatry". Adopted May, 2005.
  25. ^ Kaliski, S. Z. (2006). Psycholegal assessment in South Africa. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  26. ^ Marais, Belinda; Subramaney, Ugashvaree (1 August 2015). "Forensic state patients at Sterkfontein Hospital: A 3-year follow-up study". South African Journal of Psychiatry. 21 (3): 7. doi:10.7196/SAJP.8255.
  27. ^ "Careers in Psychiatry & Behavioral Science | American Academy of Forensic Sciences". Retrieved 2024-04-16.

External links edit