When an individual is charged with a crime, their mental or emotional state may be an issue to consider before their conviction or sentencing takes place. The attorney who represents the individual may request a psychological evaluation or, on occasion, the psychological evaluation may be court ordered. The purpose of such evaluation is to clarify the role the mental or emotional factors may have had in relationship to the crime that is being assessed.
A court ordered psychological evaluation may be a critical part in one’s defense.
Typically, the client can expect the following from the court ordered evaluation:
The evaluation will likely take up to three to four hours, including test taking time. I first conduct a comprehensive interview, asking about the nature of the offense the individual is charged with, history of previous offenses, as well as other standard background questions, including the nature of one’s childhood, educational history, vocational history, history of prior emotional problems and also an evaluation of alcohol use or illegal drugs.
Additionally, psychological testing is usually used to compliment and clarify the interview impressions. Such testing could include assessment of intellectual cognitive functions, assessment of degree of alcohol or drug problems, as well as an assessment of one’s personality or the existence of emotional problems.
It is essential for the individual to be as honest as possible during the psychological evaluation. The tests used in evaluations are sensitive to individuals trying to “look too good”. When this type of defensiveness is noted, the validity of the results of the evaluation can become questionable and will carry less weight in terms of the court ordered psychological assessment.
One can expect that there will be a lack of confidentiality in this psychological evaluation. If the report is supposed to be sent to the court or attorney, a release of information is usually requested and the psychological evaluation is part of the overall court documents. The client should feel comforted in the knowledge that the examining evaluator is unbiased and may be able to present emotionally mitigating factors that can help in one’s defense.
In connection with the evaluation court testimony can be included as a part of the defense strategy or the lawyer. I can serve an expert witness in court to explain the findings of the tests and explain the report that has been submitted. These services are not included in the initial fee, but as with an attorney will be billed separately based upon time required in rendering these services.