Criminal Responsibility Assessment

In addition to major mental illnesses, cognitive difficulties, if severe enough, may also impact criminal responsibility and competence to stand trial.

Neuropsychological and psychological testing can provide invaluable input into the assessment of criminal responsibility.Cases can range from trying a juvenile as an adult, to capacity to form intent, to assessing diminished capacity in a geriatric individual.For example, after a certain age a person without a major psychiatric illness is responsible for criminal actions. In younger teenagers, other factors in addition to age such as those relating to intellect or other cognitive domains -- must be considered when evaluating criminal responsibility.

The Forensic Panel first prioritizes history to identify areas of potential diminished capacity. Neuropsychological or psychological testing is then conducted on those identified areas of concern to help inform whether any cognitive factors would mitigate criminal responsibility. Testing can also supplement clinical information to help determine whether a juvenile is cognitively or emotionally mature enough to appreciate the significance of the charged crime, and to be tried as an adult.

Psychological testing is conducted when diagnostic questions arise. A number of psychological tests can supplement available history to better distinguish type of mental illness or personality disorder. Expert psychologists of The Forensic Panel administer tests under standardized conditions and are skilled in the interpretation of data from testing previously conducted.

There are numerous tests available to the expert neuropsychologist and psychologist to determine criminal resonsibility. Each evaluation conducted by The Forensic Panel is individualized to the specific charges and the potential identifiable deficits confronting a particular defendant.

Peer-review ensures scrupulous investigation to compare the interpretation of data with available clinical information. This oversight is particularly helpful when testing produces ambiguous results and safeguards must be maintained to minimize bias. In this regard, peer review is additionally helpful when data assembled by opposing counsel is being interpreted.