When an individual is charged with a crime, their mental or emotional state may be an issue to consider before their conviction or sentencing takes place. The attorney who represents the individual may request a psychological evaluation or, on occasion, the psychological evaluation may be court ordered. The purpose of such evaluation is to clarify the role the mental or emotional factors may have had in relationship to the crime that is being assessed.
A court ordered psychological evaluation may be a critical part in one’s defense. To obtain such an evaluation, referral should be made to a licensed psychologist who has had experience in doing such evaluations.
Typically, the client can expect the following from the court ordered evaluation:
The evaluation will likely take up to three to four hours, including test taking time. The psychologist will conduct a comprehensive interview, asking about the nature of the offensive, history of previous offenses, as well as other standard background questions, including the nature of one’s childhood, educational history, vocational history, history of prior emotional problems and also an evaluation of alcohol use or illegal drugs.
Additionally, psychological testing is usually used to compliment and clarify the interview impressions. Such testing could include assessment of intellectual cognitive functions, assessment of degree of alcohol or drug problems, as well as an assessment of one’s personality or the existence of emotional problems.
It is essential for the individual to be as honest as possible during the psychological evaluation. The tests used in evaluations are sensitive to individuals trying to “look too good”. When this type of defensiveness is noted, the validity of the results of the evaluation can become questionable and will carry less weight in terms of the court ordered psychological assessment.
Most psychological tests are reasonably accurate. Tests are subject to measurement error and, oftentimes, the validity and accuracy of the test is related more to the experience of the individual psychologist who is administering the test.
One can expect that there will be a lack of confidentiality in this psychological evaluation. If the report is supposed to be sent to the court or attorney, a release of information is usually requested and the psychological evaluation is part of the overall court documents. The client should feel comforted in the knowledge that the examining psychologist is unbiased and may be able to present emotionally mitigating factors that can help in one’s defense. The psychologist will be qualified as an expert witness whose expertise is verified by their education and professional experience. Like attorneys, they are paid for their time and expertise.
Please contact us for more information on court ordered evaluations.