In India crime is considered as one of the major vices. By each passing year, the level of crime is increasing and causing devastating effects on people, institutions, and government security agencies. In order to curb such cases, several techniques have been adopted such as forensic odontology, criminal profiling, forensic psychology, etc. The use of these techniques depends upon the complexity of the crime, the nature of evidence, and the level of forensic technology available.
The work of Foreign Psychologists is diverse and wide-reaching. Foreign Psychologists perform many roles like they assist the police in the investigation of cases, provide advice while interrogating suspects or witnesses, work as an expert witness in court cases, conduct research, etc. Foreign Psychologists employees the use of several techniques such as face recognition, eye witness memory, and eyewitness testimony, in the 19th century these techniques were first employed in a murder case which was committed in 1896 i.e., MC Cardell Case (2001).
Forensic Psychology is often defined as the use of clinical specialities in the legal system. In order to provide an explanation for criminal acts and behaviour, forensic psychologists apply psychological research, data, and theory. This practice helps in determining whether the suspect is guilty or not or whether he/she should be convicted or not. It also plays an important role in punishing and preventing crimes. The word forensic is defined as the “scientific method of investigation of crime”, therefore forensic psychology is often described as a merger of law and psychology.
Whenever a crime is committed, people usually contact police who in turn comes to the crime spot and collect evidence from there, after collecting evidence from the crime scene they deliver them to forensic science laboratories, once the laboratories complete the scientific assessment, they send the reports to court of law to help the court in deducing who, when, where, what, why and how. Thus, forensic psychology plays a crucial role in determining whether the suspect shall be convicted or not.
ROLE OF FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGISTS:
The responsibilities and duties of forensic psychologists place them in various settings ranging from the court system to law enforcement agencies and from correctional institutions to medical treatment facilities.
A Forensic Psychologist, sometimes referred to as a Criminal Profiler, works with law enforcement agencies to develop a brief profile of criminals, based on common psychological traits. In their line of work they study the behaviour of criminals and address anything from psychological theories to legal issues. Other than forensics, a Forensic Psychologist will study clinical psychology and criminal justice.
As you might expect, a Forensic Psychologist works very closely with the justice system. Some of the responsibilities they have are to conduct screenings or assessments of prisoners, investigate psychological disorders among criminal and civil court defendants, and to examine the mental state of criminals to deem if they are able to stand trial. Forensic Psychologists work with law enforcement agencies and are often called to testify in court on behalf of the defendant to support a theory the police or prosecutors have about the criminal defendant’s intent.
Forensic Psychologists also develop a relationship with their clients by providing one-on-one therapy sessions, such as when the police have been involved or there is a court order. These sessions are not only for research and study purposes but for therapeutic reasons to the patient as well. It may require the psychologists to perform activities that are occasionally unpleasant. Prison life is stressful for people who are incarcerated, and they could experience mental health issues while in the care of the prison psychologist. In some cases, the Forensic Psychologist may recommend group sessions. One primary objective that a Forensic Psychologist has is to protect the rights of each client they see.
ROLE OF FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGY IN COURTROOM:
When the forensic psychologists are called by the police, lawyers, or judges to interview and assess criminals, its role begins, and the information acquired from these interviews are used as evidence in the court of law. In a medico-legal ward, under a court mandate, a Forensic Psychologist can work towards the rehabilitation of a criminal or a victim.
According to Sec. 45 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, “the court can take help of the experts, whenever it has to form an opinion upon a point of foreign law or of science or art, or as to the identification of handwriting and the opinion of such an expert is relevant.” So according to this a forensic psychologist by presenting facts can assist the courts to execute the law in a just manner, these facts are in the form of reports of interviews and assessment of the person in question.
The role played by forensic psychologists will shed a light on the “men’s rea” of the person in question, mens rea is the state of mind of the person who generally pleads that he is not guilty in the witness stand during a trial. Those who plead guilty, claim that they have done the crime under influence of some substance or they were unaware that they have engaged in the crime, this gives the defense an opportunity to plead for lesser punishment or delay the final verdict of the judge. In such cases, experts are required to step in and assimilate the interview and assessment of the person in question to judge and give an opinion on how true the person’s statement is, this helps the judge to execute a judgment which is fair and also is in light of the safety of society and the individual.
Section 45 of The Indian Evidence Act 1872, also allows the forensic psychologist to give their expertise in solving criminal investigations, and this gives the opportunity to psychologists to make their forensic methods, according to the needs of cases.
It has been seen that the legal background of forensic psychology is not as strong as we expected it to be, currently, it is used as evidence in the Indian courts. So, an effective standard operating procedure has to be enforced, such that forensic psychology comes to play, and standardized guidelines shall be made which shall suggest where forensic psychology needs to be involved. In order to decrease recidivism, prisons around the country shall have forensic mental health professionals to sustain the path of rehabilitation.
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