Aug 9, 2019 by Foresight

3 Reasons Why a Psychiatrist Expert Witness is Essential for a Just Sentence in a Criminal Defence Case

Where a case involves a mental illness or disorder, the importance of the instruction of a psychiatric expert witness must not be underestimated. Their involvement may not only give substantial weight and direction to the solicitor’s case, but may also significantly inform the final decision made by the court. This power stems from the professional standing of the psychiatrist which proves profound knowledge of, research into, and clinical experience with the workings of the human mind. An extremely complex area of medicine, the psychiatrist expert witness can help to ensure that often vulnerable individuals are given fair trial and a just sentence. As providers of industry-leading psychiatric expert witnesses, we want to share why their appointment is crucial to a fair final sentence.

Perform Psychiatric Assessments alongside Evidence

A psychiatrist is a qualified medical doctor who has dedicated their specialism to the study of the human mind as well as diagnosing and treating people with mental illness. In many cases, mental illnesses have not been diagnosed and are therefore not being managed with targeted treatment. This can seriously influence an individual’s actions, and in some cases, their criminal activity.
When someone with a suspected or previously diagnosed mental illness has committed a crime, a psychiatric expert witness can evaluate the evidence and perform in-depth psychiatric assessments. These assessments may shine significant light on aspects of the case that the knowledge base of the solicitor did not enable access to. Already, the appointment of the psychiatric expert witness will give additional weight and direction to the case.

Diagnosis of Mental Illness or Disorder to Ensure Fair Trial

In executing the aforementioned psychiatric assessments, the psychiatric expert witness can eliminate the miscarriage of justice which may occur from a missed diagnosis or misdiagnosis. Indeed, when a mental illness or disorder has not been correctly identified for the court, it will likely have detrimental effects upon the incriminated, yet vulnerable, individual and their final sentencing.
A qualified psychiatrist is able to provide an accurate diagnosis of a mental illness or disorder. By considering the manifestations associated with a mental illness, such as those living with psychosis, depression, or bipolar disorder, the psychiatrist expert witness may decipher why the incriminating event took place. They may also establish to what extent the individual was able to control their behaviour and relay this insight to the court who can use it to inform their final decision.

Deliver a Comprehensive Psychiatry Report and Expert Opinion

In addition to the evaluation of evidence and assessment of the accused in a criminal defence case, the psychiatric expert witness will produce a report which documents their involvement, methods taken, and their expert conclusions. They may also be required to produce a Fitness to Plead report which documents when, and why and how an individual may not be able to partake in court proceedings. Notably the psychiatry report will be both detailed and accessible to those who do not share the same extensive knowledge as the psychiatry expert witness. At Foresight Clinical Services Ltd. we will endeavour to deliver the report within four weeks of formal instruction or where you require a faster turnaround we can ensure the deadline is met without compromising on the quality of the report.

In many criminal defence cases, the psychiatrist expert witness will also be asked to give their objective expert opinion in court. Due to their professional title which is recognised and respected by the court, they may offer opinion concerning the accused within their field. Often this will detail how the individual should serve their sentence; for example in a secure psychiatric hospital or in a prison with regular mental health care allowed. In doing so, the accused is given the care that they require and the sentencing that their incriminating activity calls for with recognition of their mental illness.

If you require a psychiatry expert witness to ensure that your criminal defence case is given the justice it deserves, get in touch with one of our dedicated case managers.



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