Mastering Expert Testimony: A Courtroom Handbook for Mental Health Professionals

By William T. Tsushima; Robert M. Anderson Jr. | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER 6
CRIMINAL LAW

"How can you be certain that the defendant was insane at the time of the offense 3 months ago?"

In criminal law procedures, mental health professionals have several entrees as expert witnesses. Most often, they participate in hearings that consider the accused's mental state at the time of the criminal offense, as part of the well-known insanity plea. Criminal experts address several other important mental health issues such as the fitness to stand trial, dangerousness, and malingering. This chapter focuses primarily on the insanity defense and other general issues arising in criminal court. Subsequent chapters provide more attention to mental competency and dangerousness (chapter 10) and faking and malingering (chapter 11).
Direct Examination: Witness Qualification
"Is this your first time in criminal court?"In addition to the usual questions to qualify a doctor as an expert witness (see chapter 2), the expert in a criminal trial can expect to answer the following more pertinent questions:
In your practice, do you have a special interest in forensic psychiatry (psychology)?
Have you done any research or teaching in the field of criminal psychiatry (psychology)?

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