Mar 12, 2020 by Foresight

How Psychiatric Expert Witnesses can help prove culpability

During cases where someone’s mental state is brought into question, it is vital that they are adequately assessed to see if there is an underlying cause for their criminal behaviour.

A Psychiatric Expert Witness can help you gain a better understanding of someone’s mental state around the time a crime was committed, as well as prove culpability or establish grounds of diminished responsibility.

We’re taking a closer look at what this entails and how it can help your case.

Assessing mental state

In the event of a violent crime or a sudden change in someone’s actions prior to an incident, establishing the reasonings for someone’s actions can often focus on their mental state.

Crime isn’t always premeditated and can be caused by a number of factors, including mental health conditions. Sudden changes in behaviour can be attributed to conditions like anxiety, depression or potentially dissociative disorders and psychosis.

A detailed expert witness report, provided by a qualified Psychiatrist or Psychologist can help to identify if there are any pre-existing mental health conditions that could be a contributing factor in a case. This could include looking at mental health history and assessing the severity of a condition in order to see if it could have made a person more susceptible to committing a crime.

Proving culpability or diminished responsibility

Many mental health problems, such as dissociative orders, or serious episodes of psychosis - such as delusions and hallucinations - can make a person act irrationally or in a potentially volatile way. Understanding this can determine if an individual was acting with malicious intent or if they were struggling with symptoms arising from their mental health.

This can be a contributing factor in a case, especially if the accused wasn’t in complete control of their actions due to their mental state. If a person suffers from an existing mental health condition, it is possible that they might not be completely aware of their actions or that what they have done breaks the law.

An expert witness report provides an indication of someone’s ability to control or understand their actions, which could allow the defence to argue the case for diminished responsibility or diminished capacity. This enables the defence to argue that someone is less criminally liable due to their emotional state or understanding of a situation.

Instructing Foresight for a Psychiatric Expert Witness Report

Assessing mental health is a delicate and tactful process. As mental health conditions and symptoms impact people in different ways, Psychiatric Expert Witnesses are a vital component in gathering evidence. Their insight and understanding provide necessary information to prove if someone was in control of their actions or not.

Once instructed, our Account Managers will listen to your case’s unique requirements, before sourcing the most suitable expert witness from our eminent panel of over 750 expert witnesses. After an expert is selected, they will research your case thoroughly and draw their own conclusions through quality assessments, adding a great deal of evidence to your case - evidence only an expert in Psychiatry can provide.

To learn more about our Clinical and Forensic Psychiatric Expert Witnesses and how they can help your case, please click here. Or, to instruct us, please contact us on 0330 088 9000.


0330 088 9000


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