While regular psychology deals with the mind and its influence on human behavior, forensic psychology deals with the same matters, but in the area of crime within a legal context. Since law and justice often deal with life and death issues, forensic psychology plays a crucial and important role in the legal system.
Forensic psychologists are often required to testify in court about the state of mind of a person appearing in court. The person could either be a suspect, a victim or a witness to the crime. The mental ability of the persons involved, their capacity to understand the implications of the case, and the probable factors that influence their opinion are a few of the important aspects that forensic psychologists would have to determine before or during the trial. Their conclusions play an important role and can strongly influence the outcome and verdict of the case.Forensic psychology helps in the proper investigation of a crime suspect. Just like a criminal investigator, a forensic psychologist would be able to ascertain whether the suspect’s account is accurate enough to be considered valid. They would also evaluate the mental health of the suspect to determine the extent of their conscious involvement in committing the crime.
Their role becomes even more involved when children or people with impaired mental faculties are involved in the case. If they happen to be the victims or the witnesses to the crime, the accuracy of their statements would largely depend on their state of mental health, both now and during the occurrence of the crime. Forensic psychology would often prove helpful in determining the certainty of the facts and events being discussed.
One of the main roles of the justice system is to keep under custody, those people who may be a threat to society. Forensic psychologists would sometimes be required to evaluate the risk of allowing an offender to go back into mainstream society. While the safety of people in society needs to be considered, the rights of the offender also need to be taken into consideration. If the offender has served his term in prison and is no longer a threat to society, then he needs to be released. A criminal psychologist would help in evaluating such offenders.
Forensic psychologists are also called upon to mentor and train junior staff and assistants. They might design training programs, conduct research or provide consultancy among a host of other duties that they normally perform.
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