A Forensic Psychology Degree Makes Understanding Competency Easier

by A Guest Author

When you have a forensic psychology degree, one of the areas where you might work is in the court systems. It could be a part of your job to make sure that people are competent for their hearings. What is the difference between someone who is insane and truly doesn’t know what he or she is doing and someone who does something for greed, anger, or malice? As a forensic psychologist, it will often fall to you to determine where someone stands and if they are able to even be a part of their own trials. Most people who have mental illnesses do not have any violent tendencies. Of course, there are exceptions, and criminals do sometimes try to play the system so that they can escape the most severe punishments.

What is Competency and Insanity?

To be competent enough to stand trial, a person must be able to understand the legal proceedings that are taking place, and must be able to assist the lawyer. If they're found not competent, they cannot stand trial although the trial can proceed. In many cases, their attorneys will try for an insanity plea, so that they cannot be held accountable for the crime. Instead of doing time in prison, they will instead be remanded to a mental hospital. In states that have the death penalty, you can see why so many people want to use the insanity plea. They do not want to die, even though they might have murdered others.

To get the verdict of not responsible due to a mental illness, the defense needs to prove that at the time of the crime, the defendant didn’t have the mental capacity to understand the consequences of the actions committed, or was not able to know right from wrong. As you can imagine, it can be difficult to prove either way.

It is often the job of forensic psychologists to find those malingerers that fake mental illness to avoid punishment. Often, psychologists say that they can spot the blatant malingerers quite easily. They are the ones who act the craziest, believing that acting stereotypically crazy is going to grant them a free pass. They act this way because they don’t know enough about the illness to know what the symptoms of the mental condition they are portraying are like. Psychologists spot this and see the person acting out in what they believe to be an insane manner. Then, in other situations with inmates or staff at the facility, they behave normally.

The psychologist needs to be careful though. Putting someone who is truly clinically insane into the general population in prison is simply wrong. Thus, it’s very important that you have the best training and that you have a forensic psychology degree from an approved institution before you practice.

One of the things that you will realize once you get into the field is that even those who have a long established history of mental problems might not be able to get off with an insanity plea with certain crimes. Courts have found people guilty, even though they might have known mental illnesses. On the other hand, people who have had no history of mental illness sometimes literally get away with murder.

Many different factors are going to contribute to whether a person is truly insane or not and whether they can be at fault for the crime. The defense and the prosecution will both try to find evidence that leads them to the conclusion they want. You need to make sure that you look only at the data and that nothing but the facts sway you if you are working a case such as this.

Guest Author:

Anita Schepers provides advice and information on how to get a forensic psychology degree online at ForensicPsychologyOnline.com.

This post was written by A Guest Author

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