Expert Witness Psychologists
Psychology is the science of mental life. The discipline is of relevance to professionals working in various areas of the legal profession.
Expert Witness Psychologists are often called on by criminal law experts to advise on whether an individual needs an intermediary to participate fairly in the proceedings as either a defendant or a witness for the prosecution. Psychologists often indicate whether an individual needs further evaluation to determine whether they are fit to plead. Additionally, psychologists may be able to advise the court whether an individual was culpable of an offence that they have been charged with because of an underlying psychological condition.
Psychologist expert witnesses are often called to give evidence in parole hearings, and advise parole boards whether a prisoner is suitable for parole.
Psychologist expert witnesses also assist in employment tribunal proceedings. They are often called on to advise on whether an assessment selection process or redundancy process was discriminatory. They also advise Employment Tribunal is on whether or not the claimant before the tribunal had a disability within the meaning of the Equality Act 2010. Individuals in the workplace often suffer from a wide range of disabilities including, depression, anxiety, dyslexia, and ADHD. These disabilities are often hidden but in certain situations can adversely affect individuals gaining employment and staying in a job.
In personal injury proceedings, expert witness psychologists are often called on to assess the cause of psychological trauma, determine how long it will take the claimant to recover. Expert psychologists working in this area frequently carry out neuropsychological assessments of brain injury. In all areas where psychological is carried out expert psychologists will often see to validate the findings by using a range of psychological techniques to detect malingering, and symptom exaggeration.
Psychologist expert witnesses are often called upon by social services departments and families in private and public law care proceedings. They carry out assessments of fitness to parent, whether the child subject to the proceedings has been harmed or is likely to be harmed by the parents or the likely disputes that have taken place between the parents. They are frequently asked by both social services departments, fathers and mothers to determine the level of attachment and to advise whether the child has suffered parental alienation (pathogenic parenting).
In family law cases, expert psychologists often carry out risk assessments to determine whether the child would be at risk if there was unsupervised contact unsupervised contact
Individuals who are subject to possession proceedings, frequently lack the capacity to make a proper defence and conduct their own affairs including issues that might put them at risk of being evicted. Such action can be discriminatory under the Equality Act 2010. Expert psychologists can often advise in these cases, for example where depression or conditions such as hoarding disorder impacts on the ability of the tenant to manage their property.
In education cases, expert witness psychologists often assist parents by carrying out assessments to ensure the relevant child has an appropriate Educational and Health Care Plan. Additionally, Expert witness psychologists appear in Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal’s, and also provide evidence in judicial review proceedings when parents challenged the educational provision offered to the child.
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Mental Health and the Law
There is a strong relationship between mental health and the law, as far as the rights of people with mental illness is concerned the World Health Organisation outline 10 basic principles that should protect the rights of people with mental illness:
Mental Health Care Law: 10 Basic Principles - World Health Organisation
- The promotion of mental health and prevention of mental disorders.
- Access to basic mental health care.
- Mental health assessments in accordance with internationally accepted principles.
- Provision of the least restrictive type of mental health care
- Right to be assisted in the exercise of self-determination
- Availability of review procedure
- Automatic periodical review mechanism
- There must be a qualified decision-maker to detain the person
- Respect for the rule of law.
Psychology and the Law
Expert Psychologists who work with individuals who have mental illnesses frequently have two provide expert opinion for the prosecution and defence in criminal cases.
Mental health law includes areas such as the insanity plea, fitness to stand trial and testamentary capacity. Mental health law is also concerned with establishing mens rea and culpability, and compulsory detention.
The intersection between mental health and the law is further developing in the area of forensic evaluation of children and adolescents in child custody, its application to delinquency, maltreatment, personal injury and court-ordered evaluations.
The Mental Health Act 1983
How is Section 2 of the Mental Health Act 1983 Used?
Section 2 of the Mental Health Act provides the ability of mental health professionals to detain and treat people under the Mental Health Act When they are too unwell to care for or make decisions for themselves. The purpose of Section 2 is to ask the patient to come into the hospital for an assessment to determine whether they have a severe end enduring mental illness. Their detention is in the interest of their own health and safety or the protection of other people. Admission under Section 2 normally lasts for 28 days.
How is Section 3 of the Mental Health Act 1983 Used?
A Section 3 of the Mental Health Act is commonly known as a Treatment Order. This means the patient is compulsorily treated in hospital when certain conditions are met. These are that the individual is suffering from a mental disorder which is of such a degree that warrants the person being compulsorily detained in hospital. There must be a risk to the person or other people. The other conditions are, the treatment cannot be given without the Section 3 being in place, and there must be appropriate treatment available. Detention under Section 3 of the MHA can last up to 6 months.