In Need Of A Forensic Psychiatrist

  • Can a forensic psychiatrists testimony sway the jury’s opinion and ultimately the outcome of the trial or case?
    Answer: Forensic psychiatrists may be helpful in the jury’s decision about a particular mental health issue. Expert witnesses who are credible to the jury are more likely to influence the jury’s opinion.
  • Do psychiatrists work with criminals and victims?
    Answer: Psychiatrist may work with both criminals and victims. The distinction between forensic psychiatrists and general psychiatrists is that forensic psychiatrists perform evaluations and general psychiatrists provide treatment.
  • What type of expert witness can make the claim for the defense that a criminal perpetrator action was a result of a mental illness that led to the crime.
    Answer: A forensic psychiatrist can render an opinion regarding whether a criminal perpetrator’s actions were the result of a mental illness (sanity evaluation). The trier of fact (Judge or Jury) makes the ultimate decision in this matter.
  • Do psychiatrist with a specialty in forensics treat victims of crimes and their families?
    Answer: Some forensic psychiatrists provide treatment but not in their capacity as a forensic psychiatrists. Forensic psychiatrists are also general psychiatrists. Many forensic psychiatrists also have a general psychiatry practice in which they provide treatment.
  • Can a psychiatrist working for the prosecution determine whether someone who committed a crime was sane and therefore be legally responsible for his or her actions?
    Answer: A psychiatrist can provide an opinion regarding a defendant’s mental status and responsibility for his or her actions at the time of a crime (sanity). However the Judge or jury make the ultimate decision regarding a defendant’s sanity.
  • Are there precise standards judges must follow in admitting psychiatric opinion in a court of law.
    Answer: Yes. In order for a psychiatrist to testify they must be qualified as an expert witness. The qualifications for expert witness vary by jurisdiction and provide their opinion to be considered an expert witness, which allows for testimony. Most states have adopted the Daubert standard of admissibility for expert testimony. In Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., the U.S. Supreme Court changed the standard for admissibility of expert testimony. Under Daubert, a trial judge has a duty to scrutinize evidence more rigorously to determine whether it meets the requirements of Federal Rule of Evidence 702. This rule states, “If scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue, a witness qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education, may testify thereto in the form of an opinion or otherwise, if (1) the testimony is based upon sufficient facts or data, (2) the testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods, and (3) the witness has applied the principles and methods reliably to the facts of the case.”
  • What is involved in a forensic evaluation of a legal insanity defense?
    Answer: An insanity evaluation is an evaluation of an individual’s mental status at the time of the crime. The evaluation is conducted to determine if the individual was suffering from a mental illness at the time of the offense that interfered with their knowledge of wrongfulness or ability appreciate the criminality of their acts. States vary in the legal criteria for insanity. The forensic expert must be aware of the legal standard for the in the jurisdiction that the valuation is being performed. An evaluation typically involves an interview of the defendant and a review of records which typically consists of police reports, medical and psychiatric records, school records, military and employment records, other forensic/expert reports, custodial records and any other data such as interviews with family, friends, co-workers that may help the forensic evaluator better understand the defendant’s background and especially his state of mind before and at the time of the offense.
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  • What type of civil cases or issues do forensic psychiatrists provide their expert testimony?
    Answer: Forensic psychiatrists provide testimony in a variety of civil matters such as: Capacity (Testamentary Capacity, Testimonial Capacity), Disability, Discrimination/Harassment, Fitness for Duty, Guardianship, Medical/Professional Malpractice, Personal Injury, Product Liability, Professional Licensure Issues, Psychic Harm/PTSD, Sexual Harassment, Sex Offender Civil Commitment, Traumatic Brain Injury, Violence Risk Assessment, Termination of Parental Rights, Custody, Parental Fitness, Elder Abuse, Workman’s Compensation and Wrongful Death.
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  • What are the going hourly rates, fixed fees, and retainers charged by a highly regarded, trained, respected, nationally recognized, and well-known, board certified forensic psychiatrist and expert witness?
    Answer: Most forensic psychiatrists bill by the hour with rates that vary depending on qualifications and experience. Average hourly rates are 250$/hour to 600$/ hour. Some forensic psychiatrists may require a retainer before agreeing to work on a case.
  • Do you need to be a board certified psychiatrist and forensic specialist to testify on behalf of the victim or the defendant charged with the crime in a court of law?
    Answer: No, board certification is not a perquisite to being an expert witness. A psychiatrist can testify if the court determines that they meet the criteria for expert witness (see question #–). Physicians who are Board certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPN), have successfully completed an approved training program and an evaluation process assessing their ability to provide quality patient care in a specialty and/or subspecialty. A forensic psychiatrist may or may not have board certification. Board certification requires completion of an approved psychiatry residency and forensic psychiatry fellowship. In addition, in order to be board certified, the individual must pass the board examinations. Back to Top
  • Can defense attorneys or lawyers request by way of motion funding to hire a forensic expert in the field of psychiatry to review reports and identify issues related to the case.
    Answer: Yes. Attorneys can request funds from the court in order to hire a forensic expert. The attorney must demonstrate that the defendant is indigent and that the forensic expert is needed to litigate the case.
  • Does a psychiatrist views and testimonies (testimony) carry much weight in the courtroom in front of jurors and the judge?
    Answer: It is difficult to determine the role of an expert’s testimony in the outcome of a case. In some cases the trier of fact relies heavily on an expert’s testimony. In other cases the trier of fact does not place much weight on the psychiatric testimony.
  • How can a forensic psychiatrist help the prosecution or victim in a criminal case?
    Answer: A forensic psychiatrist’s opinion is based an objective opinion based on an analysis of the data. The opinion may or may not be helpful for the prosecution, victim or criminal.
  • How can a forensic psychiatrist help the defense or the accused in a criminal case?
    Answer: A forensic psychiatrist 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.

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