Forensic Psychiatrists FAQ

Forensic Psychiatrists FAQ

Forensic Psychiatrist Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How can a forensic psychiatrist help the defense or the accused in a criminal case?

Answer: They may be able to help the defense determine whether psychiatric issues are relevant to the matter. More specifically, the psychiatrist can assist the defense in determining whether a mental illness was present at the time of the defense and whether the defendant is currently suffering from a mental illness. These determinations will assist the defense in the consideration of defense strategies.

What is the role of a forensic psychiatrist in a civil court case?

Answer: There role in a civil case is to answer the specific civil question asked by the attorney.

Do forensic psychiatrists have the expertise and training to verify wills, determine  a defendant competency to stand trial or refuse medical treatment?

Answer: Yes. They may perform evaluations to determine if an individual has capacity to make a will (testamentary capacity), capacity to stand trial (competency to stand trial evaluation), and capacity to refuse medical treatment (medication guardianship). Capacity is the term used to refer to an individual’s mental ability to perform a specific act. Competency is a legal determination.

Does a psychiatrist have the same education and training as a forensic psychologist?

Answer: No. Psychiatrists are medical doctors who have received a Medical Degree. They have also completed a psychiatry residency program. Forensic psychologists have completed a psychology degree in graduate school.

What is the typical or average cost, contingency fee or retainer for an expert witness in forensic psychiatry?

Answer: It is unethical for forensic psychiatrist to accept contingency fees. Retainer fees are acceptable and depend on the specific case. You can expect to pay a psychiatrist at least half of the total cost of the forensic evaluation in a retainer.

Can I use an expert witness consultant psychiatrist in a criminal case to establish or prove that a defendant or the accused has the Competency to Stand Trial or is Not guilty of the crime by reason of insanity?

Answer: A psychiatrist can testify on the matter of Competency or Insanity if they are deemed an expert witness by the courts.

What do forensic psychiatrist do in preparation to testifying in court?

Answer: They prepare for testifying by reviewing the details of the case with counsel.

What are the qualifications of a forensic trained psychiatrist as opposed to a psychiatrist?

Answer: Forensic psychiatrist have completed a fellowship which includes a year of training in forensic psychiatry.

What are some type of forensic issues that a psychiatrist can provide expert testimony or opinion for either the prosecution or defense?

Answer: They can provide consultation and expert testimony for the prosecution or defense on a variety of psychiatric legal issues involving not guilty by reason of insanity defense, competency to stand trial, death penalty, sexual harassment, Psychiatric Disability, Fitness for duty, Violence Risk Assessment, competency to be executed, criminal responsibility, etc..

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What is the role of forensic psychiatrist in the prosecution of sex offenders or those that have committed sexual crimes such as rape?

Answer: The psychiatrist with specialized forensic training may be asked to evaluate a defendant’s mental status at the time of the sexual offense (sanity evaluation), risk of sexual offender recidivism, whether the individual meets the criteria for commitment as a sexually dangerous offender and recommendations for treatment.

What type of psychiatric services can a forensic trained psychiatrist provide?

Answer: They can provide psychiatric treatment including medications and therapy. They provide these services in their capacity as a general psychiatrist.

Do psychiatrist need to interview the defendant to render an opinion?

Answer: They may not need to interview the defendant to render an opinion. If the data available is conclusive psychiatrist can offer an opinion in the absence of an interview.

Do forensic psychiatrists specialize in any areas?

Answer: Some psychiatrist have specialized in civil or criminal matters or in specific types of forensic and psychiatric evaluations. Some examples include sanity, sex offenders, disability, and sexual harassment.

Can a forensic psychiatrist testify in a criminal case for either the prosecution or defense?

Answer: They may testify as an expert witness for either the prosecution or the defense.


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