Internal and external medical causes
The forensic psychologist will evaluate the offender and examine if they are fit enough to stand trial. Does the offender know what it is that they were doing and that what they were doing was wrong? Do they know what it is that they are agreeing to? DRP. Glasses submits a written forensic psychological evaluation report addressing competency to stand trial or fitness to stand trial, which includes: The underlying bases for any diagnosis (mental disability or impairment) A description of mental disability or impairment, if any, and the severity of any disability, defect or impairment.
An opinion on whether and to what extent the mental disability, defect or impairment impairs the defendants ability to understand the nature and purpose of the proceedings against him and/or assist in his defense. The issues of potential malingering (exaggerating or feigning symptoms of mental disability/impairment/disorder) will be evaluated. If it was opined that a person was incompetent to stand trial, the potential for restoration to competency will be addressed. Expert testimony is also provided when necessary in competency to stand trial cases. (DRP Glasses)
Not only is it their job to find out if the offender is fit enough to but it is also their job to examine the offender if they claim insanity, for example, Ian Huntley. In order to establish defense on the grounds of insanity (Estes Jennings) it must be clearly proved, that, at the time of committing the act, the party accused was labouringly under such a defect of reason from disease of the mind, as not to know the nature and quality of the act he was doing, or if he did know it, that he did not know that what he was doing was wrong. Insanity in the courts eyes are different to that of insanity in medical professions eyes.
There are internal and external medical causes, which may make someone, commit a criminal offence, for example, Arteriosclerosis which is the hardening of the arteries which cause a loss of control which resulted in the defendant killing his wife with a hammer. This is something that has an internal cause. (Estes Jennings) If you kill someone in your sleep, you don’t have any knowledge of doing so, does that mean you should be held criminally accountable for the act? So it is the job of the forensic psychologist to examine the offender and determine in which way he/she should be treated and if there is any mental disability or impairment.
One way forensic psychologists contribute to the legal process is giving the court room an evaluation on the offender’s mental stability and giving them direction in the way that the offender should be treated and sentenced. A positive way the forensic psychologist contributes to the legal process, is by giving them an understanding of the offenders health and position, making sure that they know what is being asked of them and that they are able to answer. Making the questioning process and then whole court process a lot easier to understand and quicker and more successful to execute.
It also means that the court will be able to give a more appropriate sentencing. However, a negative with the a forensic psychologists evaluation, it is something that a lot of people rely on, and it could be make or break in the case of someone who is claiming to be mentally ill, which means that there is a lot of pressure on the evaluation of the forensic psychologist. If they were to make a mistake it could mean that the offender may have received the wrong sentence, which could result in them being let of too easily, or being punished too much, which could result in harm of the offender.