Choice of Evaluation Methodology

Choice of Evaluation Methodology

Competency to Stand Trial

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The first type of forensic evaluation determines whether a defendant is competent to stand trial. Criminal procedures may be halted when the law considers a defendant “capable of standing trial” (Beltrani, Zapf, & Brown, 2015). If a defendant’s mental disease prevents them from defending themselves in court, he or she may be deemed incompetent to stand trial. Approximately 60,000 defendants are evaluated annually to determine their intelligence. This makes it the most-studied forensic subject (Morris & DeYoung, 2012). In the past, the Supreme Court has examined a defendant’s ability to stand trial. Dusky v. United States (1960) was case number one. In this instance, the court determined that a defendant must have “adequate current ability to converse with his attorney with a sufficient degree of logical knowledge” and “a rational as well as factual understanding of the proceedings against him” (Dusky vs. the United States, 1960). When a defendant is deemed incompetent, the following question is whether or not he or she will ever be able to face trial. This is known as the “restoration of competence.” In the case Jackson v. Indiana (1972), the court ruled that defendants could not be detained for longer than the time necessary to determine whether the defendant would soon be able to make judgments. If it is determined that the defendant will not be able to recover, the state has two options. Either they must initiate civil actions similar to those for those who have not been charged with a crime or release the individual without criminal charges (Jackson vs. Indiana, 1972). This review is useful when the defendant does not grasp how the court operates and is unable to defend themselves.


Child Custody

Evaluations of child custody are the second sort of forensic evaluation. Custody evaluations are conducted to determine which parent and child would offer the greatest environment for the youngster. When divorcing parents cannot agree on who should have custody of their children, this evaluation is frequently conducted (Melton et al., 2017). For this type of examination, you must complete a series of steps. The evaluator will likely wish to speak with the youngster and the child’s parents multiple times. The individual doing the evaluation may speak with the child’s significant others. This group may include family members, friends, and even teachers. The evaluator will also be interested in how each parent communicates with the youngster. The evaluator will compile all the data obtained throughout the evaluation phase into a report. This report will be presented to the court, which will use it to reach the ultimate determination (What You Need to Know About Child Custody Evaluations, 2020).

Parenting Fitness

The third type of forensic evaluation that can be conducted is an assessment of a parent’s fitness to be a parent. This type of evaluation is comparable to those used to determine child custody. Even though both include where a child should live, the parental fitness exam determines whether a parent should have parental rights. In this type of evaluation, the findings of a comprehensive inquiry of the mental processes of the parents are given significant weight. When neglect or abuse is typically discovered, the following step is the termination of parental rights (Forensic Parent Fitness Evaluation, 2020). The Parent Awareness Skills Survey illustrates the type of examination (PASS) for parenting fitness evaluation. This survey examines parents’ perspectives on various circumstances that are likely to arise in their daily life. When determining a person’s suitability as a parent, assessing their knowledge of ideal parenting practices can be useful. The second examination type is the Parent Perception of Child Profile (PPCP). This profile will assess parents’ knowledge of their child’s likes and dislikes, routines, academic history, and medical history. This exam effectively determines how well a parent understands their child, as it contains questions about the youngster. If a parent does not know much about their children, the evaluator may determine that the person is unfit to be a parent. The final exam to determine a parent’s physical fitness is administered to the child, not the parent. This exam reveals how an individual views his or her connections (PORT). This test indicates whether the child has learned to interact with their parent in a way that helps them feel at ease (Bird, 2020).

Mitigation of Penalty

The fourth forensic examination type involves determining whether a sentence should be shortened. If an individual can employ this type of examination, his or her sentence may be reduced. Most of the time, this evaluation is utilized to determine whether or not to execute the defendant. Infrequently does the defendant not match the insanity or incompetence pleas or defenses criteria. In certain instances, the defendant’s mental history and state of mind at the time of the offense could still be utilized to mitigate the severity of the sentence. The court case Hamblin v. Mitchell involves a sentence reduction. In Hamblin v. Mitchell (2003) case, the Supreme Court reversed a lower court’s ruling because the defense attorney failed to thoroughly investigate the defendant’s mental history before the sentencing phase of the trial. This case is significant because it demonstrated beyond a reasonable doubt that a defendant’s mental background may have played a role in their actions. Even if they are not deemed incompetent, they may still be able to use the statute to reduce their sentence.


The fifth and final type of forensic examination determines the likelihood that an individual would commit a violent act in the future. There are three ways to determine the violent nature of anything. The first type of judgment makes no logic whatsoever. This is by far the most prevalent strategy. It depends greatly on how skilled and smart the examiner is and how well they have performed in the past. The second category is scheduled evaluations. The actuarial prediction is the most extreme form of violence evaluation. According to “Forensic Psychologist in Violence Risk Assessment, 2020,” this is the “formal application of set, established methodologies to determine the chance that violence would occur again.” (A forensic psychologist who evaluates the likelihood of violence). Several tests are conducted to investigate the violence. The Static-99 test was feasible. This ten-question actuarial exam is designed to determine the likelihood that an individual would commit a sexual or violent offense in the future (Melton et al., 2017). The new Violence Risk Appraisal Guide test can be taken (VRAG-R). This 12-question test predicts the angry behavior of mentally ill offenders. According to most specialists, it is the actuarial tool with the best level of validity at present (Risk Assessment Approaches, 2015).

Chosen evaluation: Child Custody

Key Legal Questions

On behalf of my hypothetical client, Mr. Johnson, I’ll conduct a custody review. According to this study, the following are the most essential legal problems to consider:

1. Which parent should be legally and physically accountable for the child or children?

2. Should each parent have sole custody of the child, shared custody, or joint custody?

Methodology of Child Custody Evaluation

It takes multiple steps to determine who will have custody of a child. Interviewing is the initial step in the process. The evaluator will conduct interviews with both sets of parents, the child (or children), stepparents, grandparents, and anyone involved in the case. Each individual and the evaluator will conduct separate conversations. After these initial interviews, interviews with the parents and children will be conducted. Each parent’s interaction with their child will be observed. Following the completion of all interviews, psychological evaluations are conducted. Each parent must pass a series of challenging examinations. The MMPI-2 is the most essential evaluation instrument to consider. All parents must complete these assessments. After completing the psychological evaluation, the evaluator will gather any further information necessary to produce a comprehensive report on child custody. The judge will review the report based on its contents (Melton et al., 2017).

Appropriateness of Methodology

This strategy is ideal because it allows you to provide comprehensive responses to the most essential legal issues, providing you with the fullest picture possible at this time. Also, it allows for a comprehensive examination to determine where the child should reside (Melton et al., 2017).

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