Forensic psychology and present-day use | 02

In our previous article, we see the adoption of Psychology into law and the emergence of Forensic Psychology. When someone is less known about the legal adoption of scientific methods and studies it may confuse the individual, therefore let’s see some modern use of forensic psychology and how much important that is for our law and order situation.

1. Motive and Intention: Let’s start with criminal law. An accused can be proven guilty if he commits an offense, now to be an offense he must have the motive and intention, in a simplified way we can say he must have some reasons or thoughts let him take certain action. For example, Jack shot Robin because Robin insulted him in public, here the motivation or reason was a result of Robin’s insult but intention or final action was the shootout. This example is a very simple one, the thing I want you to consider the mental elements and how that can affect the certain situation. Now if we twist the fact a little and say Jack shot him because Robin tried to abuse him. Is the situation very different now? “Yes,” now we know the judgment will vary. So considering just action or omission is not enough, the particular situation and mental state both are very important. Let’s make it little more complicated; consider there was no supportive evidence on behalf of Jack but they were in a long conflicting relationship with history, now expert opinion is must here to find out the truth.

Judges are not always in a situation to understand all the psychological situation and mental state so time to time forensic psychologists may help the judiciary to check and verify the testimony of the witness.

2. Competency to trial: This is one of the most important matters to consider, a person who may be accused or victim or simple witness on the stand.It is important to understand whether the person is stable enough to give his words as evidence before the court.For example, a rape victim may have gone through PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder) which may reduce her competency to clearly recall all the information, she might be confused or diluted in some point. On the other hand, a witness might be a class bias one which should be carefully short out considering his credibility and reliability.

3. The maturity of a person: Once the determination of maturity was very simple; based on age or mental capacity but nowadays things are much more complicated, in many cases 10 years old is more capable than 18 years old. So the realization of criminal activities and the consequence can be calculated by a 10 yeas old, even he may think and use his defense to get rid of his crime. The forensic psychologist found many cases like this which put them in a very uncomfortable situation to live with but at the same time judiciary need some suggestion to deal with these issues. Similarly, quite opposite scene is there too many capable major people who are able to do the daily job often may not understand the nature and consequence of their or the legal proceedings. These issues rely on the forensic psychologist so that no one can misuse the legal loophole. Here we may mention insanity defense is a quite popular one in many countries over 35% claim such defense but interestingly enough only less than 1% are actually getting such insanity defense.

4. Family Court: Family issues like child custody, liability is decided based on the best protection for the child. Parents psychology, relation with child, the reason behind the issues can find out by the psychologist. In the modern judicial system, there are often standard procedure to help make the correct decision.

5. Aggravating and mitigating factors: Even after the crime is proved there are certain elements which may help the judges to take more proper decision on sentencing. for example, John was blackmailing Santha, Santha tried to stop this blackmailing hand killed him, here a crime is committed which is clearly punishable but the social factor, blackmailing and his action has some connection which aggravated the situation, on the other hand, this connection when proved the judges may have some soft corner for him.

6. Profiling: This is the most popular one due to various TV series where psychologist detects a pattern of crime then use that pattern and data to find out the suspect. Yes, this is another job of forensic psychologists but not the most popular or effective one, moreover, this type of preprofiling led to some serious issues quite lately and could do not appreciate this practice at all.

7. The mental condition of the commencement of the event: The most important one is to determine the mental condition of the accused at the time of the commitment of the crime, try to find out the causation and co-relation of other material facts of the event/crime.

The most important and final task of forensic psychology is to apply the legal principle to the particular statute to interpret the statute. Forensic psychology helps the court to understand the core mental situation and realization of a human being, it tries to show the whole picture from the inside out and make it more visible and open to justice for a better decision.

Despite the main court assistance Forensic Psychology also helps design better reformation centre, treatment facilities and social studies, the may opinion and analysis on the impact of the certain law on the society, which may help the government to have an idea about the outcome of any law on the society.

In the context of Bangladesh, it would be an exaggeration of expectation to see all such implications in recent years but we need to start from some point. It should be mentioned our existing laws can be interpreted and used to have the support of forensic psychology but it would be always better to have a complete procedure to reduce hassle and make things easy.

You can easily understand the use of forensic psychology with a real-life case example. Here is one that we can offer now; Jodi Arias vs. the State of Arizona; practical use of forensic psychology | 03

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Rayhanul Islam

Advocate Rayhanul Islam is the founder and Editor in Chief of Law Help BD. He is also a researcher. Critical thinking is his main focus. He is on a quest to bring positive change to the legal sector of Bangladesh. He promotes legal knowledge and human rights concept to the root level. e-mail:

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