Offender Profiling in the Courtroom: The Use and Abuse of Expert Witness Testimony

Offender Profiling in the Courtroom: The Use and Abuse of Expert Witness Testimony

Offender Profiling in the Courtroom: The Use and Abuse of Expert Witness Testimony

Offender Profiling in the Courtroom: The Use and Abuse of Expert Witness Testimony

Synopsis

Offender profiling is mainly used by the police to narrow down suspects in cases where no physical evidence was left at a crime scene. Recently, however, this technique has been introduced into the courtroom as evidence, raising questions of its reliability, validity, and admissibility at trial. Because offender profiling was not originally intended to be used in the courtroom, its entrance there has caused both confusion and controversy. Offender Profiling in the Courtroom discusses the use of profiling evidence in criminal trials. Ebisike also covers the history, development, approaches to, and the legal aspects of this crime investigation technique. Several serial crime cases where investigators used offender profiling during the criminal proceedings are discussed, including the case of the "New York Mad Bomber," George Metesky, who caused thirty-two bomb explosions in New York City between 1940 and 1956, and the case of Albert DeSalvo, known as the "Boston Strangler," who carried out several sexually motivated murders in Boston, Massachusetts between 1962 and 1964. Ebisike demystifies offender profiling and raises awareness about the successes and the pitfalls of the process and its use at trial.

Excerpt

This book examines the use of offender profiling evidence in criminal cases—its meaning, history, approaches, and legal admissibility. The introduction of offender profiling into the courtroom has been controversial, problematic, and full of inconsistencies. This book therefore, examines the central problems with offender profiling evidence, and answers questions such as: Is offender profiling impermissible character evidence? Who is qualified to give expert profiling evidence? Is offender profiling too prejudicial? Is offender profiling an opinion on the ultimate issue? Is offender profiling sufficiently reliable as to be admissible? This book has noted that in United States, there are inconsistencies in the court decisions on offender profiling evidence as a result of three conflicting rules governing the admissibility of expert evidence. After a critical examination of the three rules, the adoption of one rule has been suggested. The Frye test standard combined with the Federal Rules of Evidence 702 provides the best admissibility standard.

Many people are confused as to the definition of offender profiling. This book has therefore, presented a step-by-step analysis of the history and development of offender profiling. Offender profiling is a multidisciplinary practice, which, at the moment, is best described as an art with the potential of becoming a science. This book concludes that offender profiling is not sufficiently reliable as to be admissible. It is more prejudicial than probative. This book also concludes that there is an uneasy relationship, lack of unity, and absence of information sharing among the different segments of the criminal justice system involved with offender profiling, and that this problem has limited the potential of offender profiling. Hence, some courts are not convinced as to the reliability and validity of this technique. I make several recommendations throughout the work to address these issues.

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