The American Psychiatric Association defines forensic Psychiatry as “the interface between law and psychiatry, involving the application of psychiatric knowledge to legal questions. Forensic psychiatrists apply their expertise in mental disorder processes and concepts to legal problems.” Although forensic psychiatry has historically been used primarily for punitive purposes (e.g., determining an individual’s mental state at the time of a crime), it is growing in popularity to be used as both punishment and treatment. To learn more about forensic psychiatry, you can consult with a Park Slope forensic and addiction psychiatrist.
What Does it Involve?
The main focus of forensic psychiatry is to determine whether or not a defendant was psychiatrically capable of committing a crime at the time it was saved. Psychiatric capabilities can include:
- Knowing right and wrong.
- Understanding the consequences of an action.
- Controlling your impulses.
The evaluation typically includes gathering information from collateral sources (e.g., family, friends, and the police department), having a clinical interview with the defendant, and administering various psychological tests.
What is the Goal?
The goal is to determine, using psychiatric information, if the defendant was capable of understanding their role in committing a crime (regardless of mental illness). If an individual could not understand this action, they would be considered “not guilty because of mental disease or defect.” This means that instead of being found guilty for the criminal act, they are committed to a psychiatric facility until it is deemed that they are no longer dangerous.
Who Could Benefit From It?
Defendants’ mental health is often placed at the forefront of forensic psychiatry. The goal is to help individuals get the treatment they need, rather than penalizing them for their actions. Forensic psychiatry can also better understand how psychiatric disorders affect an individual’s behavior and actions.
What Cases Involve Forensic Psychiatry?
This form of psychiatry is most often used in cases that involve homicide (both deliberate and non-premeditated), sexual assault, kidnapping, arson, burglary, and other violent crimes. Although you can use it in all criminal cases, it is typically more common in the situations above.
It is important to remember that forensic psychiatry can also be used in civil cases. It is often used to determine if an individual can understand the consequences of their actions or if they are dangerous.
What Are Some Benefits?
If the defendant is not guilty because of mental disease or defect, they will not face criminal charges. Instead, they are typically sent to a psychiatric facility until it is determined that they are no longer dangerous. This also allows them to get help for their psychiatric disorder and possibly receive treatment (depending on the details of the case).
Additionally, it allows for a better understanding of how psychiatric disorders function and their effects on behavior. This information can be extremely useful in preventing future crimes and providing treatment options to those who need it.
In summary, forensic psychiatry is the application of psychiatric knowledge to legal questions. Forensic psychiatrists apply their mental disorder processes and concepts to legal problems. This type of psychiatry typically focuses on criminal conduct and civil responsibility questions.