Slide 1: The role that the behavioral sciences play in a criminal investigation
- Developing a brief profile for criminals based on their behaviors.
- Screening and assessing prisoners’ psychological traits
- Evaluate possible psychological disorders among criminals and witnesses
- Guiding the court in obtaining information from mentally ill witnesses
One of the functional areas in behavioral analysis is understanding the thought patterns of people. It is critical since thought influences behaviors and behavior influences personality. This theoretical approach enables profiling of suspects through their behavioral patterns, as psychologists did to identify the “mad bomber” George Metesky in 1956 (Winnerman, 2004). Also, screening and assessment of prisoners by behavioral scientists help identify potential psychological disorders (Winnerman, 2004; Youngs & Zeyrek-Rios, 2014). That way, any instances of psychopathy informs the court and the correctional facilities to take relevant measures. The assessment also ensures the identification of mental health issues for both criminals and witnesses and guides the court so that there is no barrier in obtaining information from the patients (Cooper & Grace, 2016).
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Slide 2: The requirements necessary to obtain an expert witness
- Training, experience, or education in fields related to a case
- Knowledge of the technicality of the case.
Besides the psychological assessment, witnesses must be experts. According to the Federal Rules of Evidence, Rule 702: Testimony by Expert Witnesses, an expert witness is that who have knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education relating to a case. Expert witnesses must have the ability to administer a testimony in the court of law. Their credentials may help prove their expertise before their testimony can be considered for admission. Also, certificates for training taken in relevant fields may be presented to back up the expertise. This enables the judges and opposing counsel to assess if the expert has the skills or understands the case’s technicality.
Slide 3: designation and acceptance of expert witness testimony
According to the Federal Rules of Evidence, Rule 702: Testimony by Expert Witnesses, an expert witness is accepted if;
- the expert’s scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will help the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in the issue
- the testimony is based on sufficient facts or data
- the testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods
- the expert has reliably applied the principles and methods to the facts of the case
This ensures that the expert will clearly connect the facts they have obtained to the subject of the case and explain away the confusing aspects of the case; that is, they should make the chronology of the events relating to the case apparent, rather than resulting into confusion. Besides, expert witnesses are accepted based on their professional conduct, such as commitment to excellence, lack of criminal conviction in the past, ability to meet deadlines regarding the case, and excellent communication skills.
Slide 4: Court rules with regard to the acceptance of evidence and testimony related to the behavioral sciences
Experts in behavioral sciences are particularly critical in the acceptance of evidence and testimony, which further influences the court decision. Since the Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., the courtroom guidelines and rules have continued to change through an improvement process, to reflect even better the role of behavioral sciences in the admission of pieces of evidence and testimonies. A systematic review has found that the admissibility of evidence in the courtroom now significantly relies on behavioral sciences to create a mutual understanding between psychology and law (Faust et al., 2010). In this case, behavioral scientists participate in ensuring the pieces of evidence provides are admissible (valid), authentic, complete, reliable, and believable.
Slide 5: The areas of forensic science and psychological profiling that may be challenged during court proceedings
- Forensic evidence offers only probabilities
- Undermining trust in the justice system
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Amid the critical roles of forensic science and psychological profiling in informing court decision, there are noticeable challenges. First, the reliability of forensic data is questionable. Like other scientific investigations, forensic science and psychological profiling are prone to methodological inaccuracies, which might mislead the courtroom proceedings (O’Brien et al., 2015). There is also a significant issue facing rapport between experts and jury, such as the information gap in the scientific data and explanations, and individual judgment (O’Brien et al., 2015). This leads to a lack of trust in the courtroom to the information gap since not all people are able to understand the theories in forensics.