Psychological Evaluations in Criminal Cases

Psychology has become a large part of the criminal law sector. A lot of the time there is no obvious explanation as to why someone committed a crime. This causes the prosecutor, the defense and the judge to wonder why this happened and see if there is a way that we can prevent this from happening in the future. The answer has a deeper psychological explanation and can only be brought out by a skilled doctor who has experience dealing with these types of cases. A psychological evaluation starts from the very beginning and checks the persons mental capacity, their functioning levels on a variety of spectrums and then digs deeper into their past. These evaluations will often check for any physical, mental or substance abuse that has occurred in the past and see if there is a deeper route to fixing the problem.

Pre-Trial Psychological Evaluations

A pre trial psychological evaluation is something we do at Trusted Prison Consultants to show the judge that there is another alternative to prison or jail. It is quite common before a plea or right after a plea for a judge to say “get a plan together for me at sentencing”. This generally means that if there is a plan that includes psychological treatment, counseling and potentially medication then the judge will consider it.

If you have a skilled representative in court, it is likely that they can show the judge that this whole process is not about retribution but instead about rehabilitation. Punishing someone in jail or prison can always temporarily solve the problem but it will never be a long-term solution. If the route of the problem is not solved, than this person will always have an issue and may re-offend in the future. The psychological route provides a possible solution to their problem and the reason why they committed the crime. If possibly solved, this person may never re-offend in the future.

Psychologist Testimony at Trial

Often, in certain types of cases, it can help to have a psychologist testify at trial. We will give you three instances to better understand why this could be important.

Example #1: In a sexual assault case it is often important to help explain to the jury whether or not someone has a propensity to A) commit this crime and B) commit a crime like this again in the future. Science has shown that there are certain “tells” and indicators that will be predictive of whether or not someone will commit a sexual assault type of crime.

Example #2: Also in the realm of sexual assault cases, sometimes people make fake accusations. Only the most skilled psychologists are able to testify to these fabricated or false stories. When these stories are from children, there are large amounts of leading peer-reviewed studies showing that children are very susceptible to making up false accounts of what happened. Literature also suggests that what form is used when asking a question will depend on what the response will be. Officers and medical experts, who work with children daily, understand that sometimes to get the answer they need, they must lead the child into it. An example would be “on September 25th in your house did someone do something to you sexually?” This is an extreme example and a type of case we would rarely ever deal with but it should be shown how people make fake accusations. A regular juror may not pick up on this and that is why it is so important to have a doctor, who is a specialist, testify to exactly what is going on here.

Example #3: This example comes from an attorney we work with, who was in trial, on what he considered to be a self defense case. The client was charged with 7 counts total including multiple felonies. The client was outside a bar and got in a fight with several individuals. The client caused broken bones and severe cuts to several of the people who he was in a fight with. The defense claimed this was self-defense but didn’t know the exact right way to explain this to the jury. After a long period of thought, the defense called a forensic psychologist to the stand as a witness. The psychologist testified about the “fight or flight” response and how this could affect the way one is thinking. He was able to give perspective to the jurors of how the mind works and how someone can be provoked. In this case the final result was not guilty on all counts and special allegations.

Psychologist Jury Consulting

Jury consulting is a practice that not many people know about. Before a trial begins it is up to the defense and the prosecutor to pick a jury. This process is called “voir dire” and is basically an opportunity to ask the jurors questions about themselves and about the cases. What most people don’t know is that sometimes a jury consultant is watching their every move. From mannerisms to coughs to scratches or blinks, how someone feels about a certain topic, can sometimes be seen by their subconscious movements. To pick the absolute best jurors for your case (the ones that agree with your style of the case and what you are saying) you need to know exactly what these jurors are actually thinking. A jury consultant can give you this information so you can pick the jurors you want and get rid of the ones that may not agree with your client’s case.

State and Federal Sentencing Hearings

Sometimes after someone has been convicted they call Prison Consultants to try and see if anything can be done to help them. We often get the call after conviction when a family may realize that everything they were promised by their current attorney was not necessarily the truth. At this point we see what we can do for the sentencing hearing. Having a psychologist testify about our client at the sentencing hearing is one of our best methods to show the judge that this person will not re-offend in the future. Our psychological testimony at the sentencing hearing has resulted in years off a recommended sentence and even probation in certain cases.

Post Conviction Psychological Help

Sometimes people have been convicted and they are just looking for some help before entering prison or an extended jail sentence. We have a psychologist on staff that is able to help with these issues. She is able to do in-person or Skype interviews to prepare someone for this process. When you think about it, a lot of being in prison is an attitude and a confidence. The old saying “fake it until you make it” works perfectly in this situation. However, sometimes it takes a trained professional to help you understand how to exude this confidence onto other people.

Prison Consulting and Psychological Help

At Trusted Prison Consultants we try to do everything we can to give someone the psychological edge over other people in their same situation. Whether it is hiring us at the very beginning of the case and showing a judge what kind of person you really are or if it is at the end of the road where it is just a prep for prison, we can be there to make sure you have the edge that you need.