Forensic psychiatric evaluations: an overview of methods, ethical issues, and criminal and civil assessments
Int J Adolesc Med Health. 2014 Nov 20. pii: /j/ijamh.ahead-of-print/ijamh-2015-5001/ijamh-2015-5001.xml. doi: 10.1515/ijamh-2015-5001. [Epub ahead of print]
Abstract. Forensic psychiatry is frequently defined as the branch of psychiatry that deals with issues arising in the interface between psychiatry and the law. Psychiatrists are called on by the legal system to provide testimony in a wide variety of cases, criminal and civil. In criminal cases, forensic psychiatrists may be asked to comment on the competence of a person to make decisions throughout all the phases of criminal investigation, trial, and punishment. These include the competence to stand trial, to plead guilty, to be sentenced, to waive appeal, and to be executed. In civil cases, forensic psychiatric experts are asked to evaluate a number of civil competences, including competence to make a will or contract or to make decisions about one’s person and property. Psychiatrists are also called on to testify about many other issues related to civil cases. Forensic psychiatrists who work with children and adolescents are frequently involved in evaluations and testimonies concerning juvenile delinquency, child custody, termination of parental rights, and other issues. As such, forensic psychiatric experts have now developed into a reputable and well-known group of professionals. Forensic evaluation methods, ethical issues related to forensic psychiatric practice, and some common criminal and civil forensic psychiatric evaluations are discussed in this overview.