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Forensic Psychology

Ch. 5 Insanity and


Competency

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Forensic Psychology, 3rd Edition
Insanity Determination

Difficulty in determining insanity


Insanity is a legal concept that may vary
from one jurisdiction to another
Requires a retrospective assessment of
the persons mental state at the time of
the offense (perhaps months or years
prior)
Insanity vs. psychosis
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Insanity Determination

Mens rea
a guilty mind
Not guilty by reason of insanity
(NGRI) defense
usually committed to a psychiatric
hospital

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Defining Insanity

MNaghten Rule
defect of reason
did not know the nature and quality of
the act he was doing
did not know that what he was doing
was wrong
cognitive test of insanity

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Defining Insanity, cont.

Irresistible impulse exemption


volitional aspect of insanity
The Durham Test
not criminally responsible if his or her
unlawful act was a product of mental
disease or defect
Any familiar clinical-diagnostic label?
currently used in only New Hampshire
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Defining Insanity, cont.

The ALI Standard, or Brawner Rule


substantial capacity
ability to appreciate wrongfulness

Currently, 20 states use the ALI


standard.

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Supplements to
Insanity Defense

Guilty but mentally ill verdict (GBMI)


defendant is provided treatment at a state
mental hospital until he or she is declared to be
sane, then is sent to prison
Criticisms:
differing definitions and incarceration decisions
difficulty distinguishing NGRI and GBMI
has not led to reduced NGRI acquittals
does not ensure that offenders receive effective
treatment
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Insanity Defense Reform
Act of 1984

Cognitive appreciation
Burden of proof
Congress shifted the burden of proof in
federal trials to the defendant to prove
insanity by clear and convincing evidence.
Most states concur, but with
preponderance of the evidence standard

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Psychologists Roles
in Insanity Cases
Assessment of Criminal Responsibility
Interviews
often unstandardized and unstructured

Rogers Criminal Responsibility Assessment


Scales (R-CRAS)
measures the ALI definition of insanity via 25
quantifiable variables

Mental Screening Evaluation (MSE)


to screen out those defendants whose law-breaking
actions clearly were not caused by a mental
abnormality
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Testifying as an
Expert Witness
Prosecution and defense may both have
experts with conflicting testimony

Sometimes defense experts can only


express general opinions

Difficult cross examinations

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Ultimate-Issue Testimony

Is it proper for an expert to express an


opinion about whether the defendant
was sane or insane at the time of the
offense?
Such testimony was one of the targets of
the Insanity Defense Reform Act of 1984.
modified federal law specifically to prohibit
mental health experts from testifying about
ultimate legal issues

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Assessing Competency

Competency to plead guilty


must be knowing, intelligent, and voluntary
(Johnson v. Zerbst, 1938)
Dusky v. United States, 1960

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Assessing Competency
Competency to stand trial
decided by the judge, who often defers to the opinion of
the examining psychologist or psychiatrist
Competency Screening Test (CST)
Competency Assessment Instrument (CAI)
Fitness Interview Test-Revised (FIT-R)
Georgia Court Competency Test (GCCT)
MacArthur Competence Assessment Tool-Criminal Adjudication
(MacCAT-CA)
Competency Assessment to Stand Trial for Defendants with Mental
Retardation (CAST-MR)

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Assessing Competency
Competency of juveniles
12 yrs. old or younger
mental illness or metal retardation
lower level of intellectual functioning
deficits in memory, attention, or interpretation of reality

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Malingering
The conscious fabrication or gross exaggeration of
physical and/or psychological symptomsto
achieve external goals. (DSM-IV, 2000, p. 683)
Rogers et al. (1990, 1994) distinguished three types:
pathogenic:
motivated by underlying pathology; genuinely disturbed
criminological:
antisocial or oppositional motivation
adaptational:
makes a constructive attempt, at least from the feigners
perspective, to succeed in adversarial circumstances

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Forensic Psychology, 3rd Edition
Assessing Malingering

Instruments:
MMPI-2
Malingering Probability Scale (MPS)
Structured Interview of Reported
Symptoms (SIRS)
M test
Malingering Scale (MS)

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