Steps of Forensic Psychology as an integral part of modern legal system | 01
The complexity of human nature became more visible with the continuous development of the scientific study, of which psychological study is the pioneer. The application of psychological study in the field of law and order opened a new branch of study, which is solely dedicated for the application of psychological science within the legal system to address and solve the legal issues concerned in a case; known as “Forensic Psychology”. With time forensic psychology has proved its importance by adding the system to find out proper answers to decide key issues that could change the result.
At this point, the basic question that comes to our mind is “How does it work?”, which may be followed by the question “What the applicability?” the connection between law and forensic psychology can be often frigid in our general observation, specifically from a developing country. Therefore the development can drown to make the connection clear and also to understand its nature and scope to the present legal mechanism.
Let’s make the story of development short by touching only a few remarkable points, In 1893 James McKeen Cattell put a test on the students of Columbia University asking them very simple questions, he also asked them to evaluate their confidence level about their answers. He did this to find out the accuracy of individuals as an eyewitness on the stand of court. His result found a surprising degree of inaccuracy; this research is considered as the first step of forensic psychology. The test of Mr Catell was further supported by criminologist William Stern In 1901.
In 1908 Munsterberg, a German psychologist who had experienced the courtroom drama as an expert, published “On the Witness Stand” explaining the impotence of psychology in order to find out the most accurate answers as most of it depend on the testimony of witness where the witness himself maybe not in a condition to present him before the court. Further studies and cases later adopted his thoughts and then slowly integrated to the legal system, one of which was Frye v. the U.S in 1923, as this case has established the precedent for an expert witness in the court.
Moreover, in 1940 when in the case of People V. Hawthorne where the credibility of a psychologist was challenged in comparison with a medical specialist, the courts ruled that, “the standard for expert witnesses depended on how much the witness knew about a subject, not whether the person had a medical degree.” Afterwards, in another landmark case of Jenkins v. the United States (1962) psychologists were directly recognized as mental illness expert.
After this remarkable decisions courts were more open to recognising the psychological aspects of the individuals that participate in the judicial process. The take-off of forensic psychology had started after World War II and still moving on in the same ratio but it must be mentioned that human mind acts in a very unique moreover the study or decision that is concluded by the individual (on whom the observation need to made) largely depend on his particular situation, It is not a bulletproof science, so things are connected and dependent on each other too therefore, observation by different psychologist may differ time to time and that made ambiguity in the trial process.
American Psychological Association recognised Forensic Psychology as a specialization in 2001.
Now a day’s forensic psychology is one of the most influential elements of court procedure to decide an issue of a case. It is used both in civil and criminal litigation, it helps the judges and juries in all part of the trial; whether is it pre-trial or in trial or during the sentencing or at the time of appeal. Professional psychologists determine the competency, mental condition, mental health etc. not only of the victim or accused but also all present element of the process, such as juries, police etc.
Want to know present-day application? Keep your eye here, you will have a link to our new article on that very soon.