Forensic psychology is an area of psychology that many people are familiar with through various characters portrayed in the movies and on television shows. In this fictional world, they are usually working for the Federal Bureau of Investigation and are helping to find a criminal. Most often it is an unknown suspect who has committed crimes of extreme violence. In real life, there are forensic psychologists that work with the FBI, but there are a great many that are working in jobs that are much different than shown in the movies. The one thing all forensic psychologists have in common is that that are working in some capacity in the legal systems.
Support for Judges in Criminal Trials
In court, there are many judgments that need to be made but must have the input of a forensic psychologist. One such area is with competency. Before a person can be put on trial for a crime, they must be judged competent to stand trial and have the ability to aid an attorney in their defense. Whether an individual is competent is a decision a judge makes after reading the evaluation of a forensic psychologist.
A forensic psychologist also helps the court during the sentencing phase of a trial by making recommendations for punishment. Knowing the state of mind of a criminal at the time of the crime is an important element in meting out justice.
A forensic psychologist is also important in evaluating those eligible for parole. A parole board must decide how probable it is that a person released from prison will commit the same crime again. An analysis from a forensic psychologist is invaluable in helping make this decision.
Testify in a Court of Law
As an expert in human behavior and how it relates to criminal actively, a forensic psychologist is valuable to both the government and the private sector. They offer up expert testimony in many civil suits to help explain the pain and suffering of the plaintiff to a jury. They also work with attorneys in civil cases during the jury selection phase of a civil trial.
Helping in child custody cases
Although the law always puts what is in the best interest of the child first, the real question is how to determine what the best interest is. In many cases, the best information to use is the evaluation of a forensic psychologist of the children. They also are able to evaluate a parent to determine whether he or she should have their parental rights revoked or restored.
Evaluating Children in Criminal Cases
It is the forensic psychologist that can help determine whether a child will be able to give testimony in a court of law. Some children are too young to provide testimony that will be useful to a judge or jury while others may be too traumatized by a violent event. Often children who have been accused of a crime need to be evaluated to understand their state of mind at the time the crime was committed. A forensic psychologist has the skill to offer expert information in this area.
There are many jobs for a forensic psychologist; most of these jobs relate to legal proceedings. It is the kind of job that involves working with and helping people. A good forensic psychologist also helps to bring about justice.