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Application of Forensic Psychology to the Criminal Justice System

forensic psychology brain image

Forensic psychology has over the years played a key role in the legal field of criminal justice. To fully appreciate how this field of psychology affects criminal justice, it is important to first understand what it is and how it is applied in court cases. Definition of Forensic Psychology Forensic psychology is a unique combination of medical psychology and criminal justice. The American Psychological Association (APA) defines forensic psychology as the use of clinical specialties in the legal system. A forensic psychologist applies psychological principles, data, research, and theory to provide an explanation for criminal acts and behavior. The practice helps to determine whether an accused person should be convicted or pardoned for his or her actions. Chapter 490 of Florida statutes, aptly titled Psychological Services, provides a basis for the application of forensic psychology in the criminal justice system in an increasingly complex society where emotional survival plays a key role in human behavior. How is it Different From Clinical Evaluation? Forensic psychology and clinical assessment follow the same the same procedures of evaluation but differ in the way each field is practiced. A person who… Read More

How “Expert” is Expert Testimony?

The Eye-Opener The legal system as we know it, places considerable emphasis on expert testimony. On a reasonable scale, there is no expectation that such testimony would be accurate at all times and in all instances. However, digging deep into how “expert” an expert testimony is, brings up an unexciting, and frankly, appalling state of affairs of this critical legal appendage. Fault Lines in Psychology in Court Cases Interestingly, the initial steps to uncover the careless “inexpertness” of what many consider, and often passes, as expert testimony in the courts were made more than a century ago by no other than a man the legend Sigmund Freud described as the “master of psychological thinking”— Fyodor Dostoevsky. The specific case Dostoevsky observed to make his conclusions was that of his brother, Dmitri Karamazov. Dmitri was alleged to have murdered his father, and three medical experts were called upon to testify/give their opinions on two points—the sanity of Dimitri, and if he had committed the murder. The table below gives an overview of the findings from the three experts. Expert Sane/Insane Guilty/Not Guilty A Insane Guilty B Insane C… Read More

Cultural Influence On Crime

Japan collectivistic

One can take many different stances when asked to determine the causes of criminal activity. One area of research that has been gaining popularity views crime as a product of the culture or subculture to which one belongs, rather than strictly blaming it on individual differences. In other words, enculturation plays an important role in the development of criminal behavior; this argument is supported by recent research that will be further discussed, and the disparity in rates of crime between different cultures and subcultures. The purpose of this post is to examine any relevant statistics regarding the differences in violent and nonviolent criminal activity within and between cultures, and to discuss the various theories that have been proposed to explain the reason for imbalance in rates of crime around the world. Variations between the type of crime committed, as well as how it is committed will also be noted as it relates to the topic. Beginning with an analysis of a particular subculture within the United States, which will then lead to cross-national comparisons, the goal of this article is to illustrate how crime is a complicated… Read More

Rational Choice as a Theory of Crime

rational choice theory of crime | criminal lawyer Kenneth Padowitz

Rational choice is a prominent theoretical model in many fields of research, though many criminologists continue to doubt its applicability as a general theory of crime. Much of this skepticism can be attributed to the over-simplification of the model, and the methodologies utilized when testing it in research. Rational choice theory is conceptually broader than many researchers believe it to be, and those who explore it often leave out important variables in their testing. Numerous studies have been conducted, the findings of which have legitimized rational choice as a general theory of crime. The ability to apply rational choice theory not only to instrumental criminal acts, but also to those crimes in which there is no apparent monetary motive, has been supported through research. The goal of this article is to thoroughly explain Gary Becker’s original model of rational choice theory and to take a closer look at how it is currently utilized today in criminological research. In addition to highlighting the positive aspects of the model, its shortcomings will also be explained. Criminology is the scientific study of crime and its origins. Criminologists seek to answer… Read More

The Unflinching “Super-Optimism” of Criminals

super optimism and criminal activity | broward criminal attorney Kenneth Padowitz

The Supervillains of the Underworld You practically cannot be as super-optimistic as criminals can. It is almost as though it is a super power. However, it is one super power that has made many lose their freedom and complete liberty. The bloated population in the country’s prisons is a testament to this assertion. This super power is in one called super-optimism. Criminals always expect to achieve success in any endeavor. They plan meticulously, gather resources, and when it is time to go hot, they proceed with a maddening sense of optimism that for a moment they feel invisible and untouchable. Every idea for these super-villains of the underworld is a reality, and every decision must stand.w Their overarching certainty rests in part, on how they consider themselves unique, superior to everyone, and their preparedness to employ any means possible to achieve their objective. Now, to be clear, their super-optimism does not cloud their understanding of reality as much as you think. They do know the high costs associated with their trade. There is the possible of being caught or worse killed. However, when it is time to… Read More

Criminals and Religion: Explaining the Antithesis

religion and crime | Kenneth Padowitz, P.A. | Criminal Lawyers

The Antithesis It is paradoxical that individuals who devote their life to criminality often associate with a religion and put up the notion that they are devout adherents. It might involve regularly attending a place of worship—a church, mosque, or synagogue. In addition, they may observe holidays, festivals, and read religious texts. Many go as far as adorning religious ornaments. Lifting the Veil The primary explanation for this oddity resides in the word—compartmentalization. Criminals keep their religious beliefs and practices away from their everyday lives. Thus, while religiosity may exist, it exists without substance. Take these scenarios, a man touching a cross hanging around his neck whenever he cursed but has no problem snatching purses or committing assaults. An adolescent takes the time to read a religious pamphlet, but admits to stealing the pamphlet from someone else. The Italian mafia has patron saints, and members of organized crime often build elaborate religious shrines in their homes. The disturbing fact is that they may be sincere about engaging in religious practices and following certain religious teachings. However, it does not translate to how they live day to day… Read More

Criminals: Parents Aren’t Always At Fault

does parenting play a role in whether the child becomes a criminal? | Kenneth Padowitz | Criminal Lawyer in South Florida

Parenting and Criminality Mental health professionals have been at the forefront of answering the questions that mortify the rest of us. In what environment and under what conditions did a one-time murderer, serial killer or mass shooter grow up? Among a growing number of factors, the parents of criminals receive a great deal of scrutiny. Could they have played a role in shaping up who the criminal becomes in the future? What else plays a role in determining whether juveniles or adults break the law and are charged with crimes? What We Think versus What Is True For most of us, the answer to the last question is a resounding yes. The assumption appears to be that good parents turn out good children who become respectable, law-abiding adults and vice versa for bad parents and criminals. The conviction stems from our remedial understanding of human development. The long-held belief is that at birth, children have a clean slate. They are pure, innocent, little cuties like a fertile soil. Therefore, it is the universal duty of parents all over to instill right training, much like a farmer planting… Read More

Deep Connection Between Terrorism and the Criminal Personality

Deep Connection Between Terrorism and the Criminal Personality | Broward criminal lawyer Kenneth Padowitz

The Wide Scope of Terrorism Terrorism to the average Joe takes a racial and ethnic dimension. Technically, though this is a misrepresentation and terrorism is far more expansive. According to the U.S. Code, terrorism, regardless of its form refers to acts with intent to coerce or intimidate a civilian population. Going by this definition, most criminals operate as terrorists. The victims they terrorize may be as specific as one person or as widespread as an entire country. Terrorism takes different forms. A man guy battering his wife is a terrorist as the wife feels desperate, trapped, threatened, and intimidated. In 2002, John Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo terrorized the population a large swath of the US stretching from Baltimore to Richmond. Their chose act of terrorism was random sniper takedown of complete civilian strangers. Their spate resulted in 10 fatalities and 3 people wounded. Residents cowered in fear based on the uncertainty of who was next on the makeshift hit list. Walking Down Memory Lane Therefore, there exists a deep-seated relationship between terrorism and the criminal personality. In fact, it appears that the criminal personality feeds off… Read More

Juvenile Sex Offender: Myth versus Reality

juvenile sex offender registration | Kenneth Padowitz, P.A.

Busting the Myth It goes by different apothegms, “Past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior,” “A ticking time bomb,” “Old habits die hard”… Whatever form it takes, the idea is simple and generalized. That one who has committed an offense before is more likely to commit the same offense again. It even has a fancy word “recidivism.” The idea permeates the public space. Such that just about any average person on the street would accept that any juvenile arrested for a sex offense poses a significant or high (depending on who you converse with) public safety risk and would very likely be a sex offender in his or her adult years. It is a feeling that has been watered and nursed by the media and informal chatters. The fact is, that is not accurate. To prove the inaccuracy of the widely held public opinion, an authority figure on juvenile delinquency, Michael Caldwell went all in to ascertain the accurate risk estimate of a juvenile arrested for committing a sex offense. Caldwell, an academician at University of Wisconsin in Madison, took up the pedantic task of… Read More

Delusions and the Social World: The Connection

truman show delusion | Kenneth Padowitz, P.A.

Has there ever been a society where deluded individuals did not exist? – The answer is probably no. At one time or another, virtually every psychiatric hospital of decent size had their hands full with people who thought they were Jesus Christ or spies for either of two cold-warring intelligence agencies—CIA or KGB. Today, the mix is evolving. We now have quite a lot of individuals who think they are reality TV stars—the Kardashians in the psych wards so to speak. For these individuals, the whole package is present—directors, camera crews, and the audience. Except of course, the pros are out of sight. Thing is, the phenomenon is not restricted to those who end in the psych wards. More people than you’d realize exhibit the phenomenon, only not so dire that they need special psychiatric evaluation. Mild as it may appear; a public clinic psychiatrist in London estimated that one or two in every 10 patients he examined have had the sensation of being filmed. The phenomenon is commonly called the Truman Show Delusion and interestingly the population most affected is the young. The colloquial name for… Read More