Discussion Question

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Discuss the unique issues involved in assessment of defendants and the legal issues that must be considered when administering tests in a forensic setting

Forensic psychology has interplay between psychology and the justice system. Thus, it requires an understanding of the basic legal principles regarding expert witness testimony and the area of concern. The questions asked by the court are legal and require responses that the court understands. Forensic assessment is part of psychological assessment but has a different training and practice guidelines. The defendant may halt the court proceedings by refusing to comply with the set guidelines. Others may slow down the process citing inference from other interested parties thereby making the assessment process challenging to undertake.

The settings are diverse that include law enforcement, correctional, civil, and criminal court settings. Forensic assessment is a legal fact-finder hence involved collecting, analyzing, and presenting data in legal settings. Forensic assessment is not voluntarily sought by the defendant and as a limited confidentiality (Grisso, 2003). The defendant may resist the assessment or try to influence the process.

The considerations when administering tests in a forensic setting include the need to have a basic understanding of the organization of the legal system, familiarity with the case law, and understanding the constitutional and statutory basis for the areas of practice. The analyst ought to be aware of the unique challenges encountered in forensic practice and also to present data objectively and avoid dual relationships. Other considerations are the need to provide expert testimony by developing skills in presenting information to the legal system both written and oral; and relevant to the court, consistent with legal guidelines, and that accurately reflects clinical data (Bank & Packer, 2007).


Bank, S.C. & Packer, I.K. (2007) Expert witness testimony: Law, ethics, and practice. In A.M.      Goldstein (ed.). Forensic Psychology: Emerging Topics and Expanding Roles. Hoboken,     NJ: John Wiley and Sons.

Grisso, T. (2003) Evaluating competencies: Forensic assessments and instruments (2nd ed.).         NY: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers.

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