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Risk Factors for Criminal Behavior | Peer Rejection

Peer Rejection It has been continually shown over the years by developmental psychologists that a child’s peer relationships are essential in proper emotional and social development of an individual. Around the time of puberty, these adolescents begin to become more susceptible to the influence of their friends, and less susceptible to the influence of family or parents. A strong predictor of teenage alcohol or drug abuse is whom children choose to become friends with; this relationship has been quite obvious for some time now. Like poverty living conditions, the relationship between peer rejection and criminal behavior is less obvious than for substance abuse, but nonetheless does exist. Starting in early childhood around the elementary school years, being accepted by peers is crucial in the normal development of a child. Healthy psychological and social development requires being exposed to various social situations that a peer group can provide. Researchers have shown a significant link between rejection in the early years of first grade and antisocial-type behaviors in fourth grade. Research went further to show that individuals who felt they were rejected for two to three years had a 50%… Read More

Battered Woman Syndrome

Battered Women Syndrome Over 10% of homicides in the U.S. are by women, and a high percentage of these cases involve the killing of an abusive romantic partner. In fact, the majority of women that are in prison for murder are victims domestic violence. Women who are abused by their partners are believed to be more sensitive to perceived danger, and so have increased fear and anxiety responses. What Are Some Possible Defenses For The Battered Woman When Dealing With A Murder Charge? Legally, battered woman syndrome is not a defense when used by itself. The abused woman must show that she was forced to murder the husband out of self-defense, or because of temporary insanity. The battered woman self-defense only works if it can be shown that she was forced into the act of killing out of the fear for her own life, or the lives of her children. What is Self-Defense? Generally, self-defense is defined as the use of force to prevent serious bodily harm or death; the person must reasonably believe they, or someone they are responsible, is in imminent danger. Anyone claiming lethal force… Read More

Risk Factors for Criminal Behavior | Poverty

Criminal Behavior Risk Factors: Early Warning Signs Childhood Risk Factors Antisocial behaviors in adults can be traced back to their origins in their childhood. Looking back at the childhood years of criminals, and especially career criminals, for the most part there will be warning signs indicating they may be heading in the wrong direction. There are many theories as to what the risk factors for criminal behavior are in the field of psychological criminology, which is the science of behavior and mental processes of those individuals who commit crimes; many of them agree that the roots of adult criminal offenders can be traced back to their early and late childhood years. Throughout each stage of an individual’s developmental pathway, there will be various risk factors that may contribute to the development of a criminal mindset. What Are Some Examples of Childhood Risk Factors? Everyone may be exposed to certain risk factors throughout their life; most experts in the field believe that the more risk factors someone experiences throughout their developmental years (early/middle childhood, teen), the higher the chance that they will participate in criminal or antisocial behavior in… Read More

The Insanity Defense

Legally Insane: The Insanity Defense The insanity defense is one of the least successful defenses in a criminal defense case. The determination of the suspect’s mental state at the time of the criminal offense, as well as at the time of trial can be a challenging task; the defense actually has the burden of proof in Federal cases, as well as most State charges, in showing the defendant to be insane. It is important to note that insanity is actually a legal term, not a psychological one. There are times when the suspect may be psychotic but still don’t fit the legal criteria of insane. The legal definition of insanity also varies, depending on which jurisdiction the charge originates. Legal tradition in the United States holds that if an individual is not aware of what they are doing or unaware of the meaning of their behavior, they should not be held criminally responsible. Mens rea is vital to charge and convict someone of a crime. According to the opinion in Durham v. United States, determining if someone is guilty and then punishing should only occur if the… Read More

Confessions: Police Interrogation

Confessions: Police interrogation A confession is probably the most damaging kind of evidence that you can give to the police, and will surely be presented in court in front of a jury. It is almost as bad as blowing into the Breathalyzer when you know you’ve had more than two drinks.  The way in which a confession is obtained is important in determining whether or not it is legitimate, and if it should even be allowed into evidence in court. With the goal of getting a confession, police are tempted to use whatever tricks they have up their sleeves, whether it be through intimidation or manipulation, etc. These tactics taught in police training often times do work in getting true confessions, but along with those comes the price of many more false confessions. A good example of this is the well known case of the “Central Park Jogger” in 1989; five individuals falsely confessed to rape but were later exonerated in 2002 when the real rapist admitted to the crime. They recently received a $40 million settlement from New York City for their improper conviction and time served. What… Read More

Jury Selection | Importance of Experiential Questioning

Jury Selection It can be argued that the selection of a good jury is more important than any facts of the case. I happen to believe that the facts of the case are equally important to a good jury selection. Many fellow criminal attorneys have claimed that no amount of evidence against their client would matter, as long as their jury selection is perfect;  they believe they will come out on top over the long run, regardless of the circumstances in the case. Although this may very well be true, many lawyers unknowingly lack in their abilities to effectively pick a decent jury. The usual approach to jury selection, voire dire, focuses on asking jurors questions which fall into two categories: affiliative, and attitudinal questions. These questions are thought to show any conscious or unconscious preferences a prospective juror may have towards the prosecution or defense. What are Affiliative and Attitudinal Questions? Affiliative questions are focused on any groups that a prospective juror identifies with. These questions are supposed to provide the attorney with clues as to where the prospective juror stands on various social issues. Alone, affiliative… Read More

Conflict Between Two Disciplines : Psychology and Law

Conflict Between Two Disciplines Psychology And Law Out of the need to resolve disagreements, laws are created and implemented by people. For the most part, laws can be seen as a reflection of the values of the majority in a society. Laws are created, changed, or thrown away because as time passes, the values of a society also change. What is acceptable today may be unacceptable in the future; as values change, so do the laws governing the people. For example, spousal rape, which is when a married man forces his wife to have sex even if she did not want to, was largely ignored by society. Time passed, values changed, and as of today every state in the U.S. has implemented laws protecting women from this behavior. You could probe the minds of an attorney, a law enforcement officer, a psychologist, and a judge, about how they know something is true or valid, and what would be needed to come to that conclusion, and they would all give different answers; neither are necessarily incorrect, but chances are based on their own perspective, they will all give you… Read More

The Context of the Crime | The Psychology of Criminal Behavior

The Context of the Crime Psychology of Criminal Behavior Instead of strictly exploring legal topics like most law blogs, regurgitating much of the same legal jargon and Appeal Court decisions, this site will focus on the criminal justice system from a different perspective. The purpose of this blog will be to explore topics in the area of forensic psychology, the processes of the legal system, specifically the criminal justice system, with the knowledge of the psychological concepts and findings in mind; in other words, the psychology of criminal behavior. This post will focus on why the context matters when dealing with a criminal charge. Knowing the psychology of the criminal mind and the psychological processes that contribute to a criminal offense is just as important, if not more important, than the written laws, or the interpretation of them. Adequately trying a case, whether in the perspective of the state or federal prosecutor, or the criminal defense attorney, requires at least some ability to step into the suspect’s shoes in order to convince the jury and to reach the sought after verdict. Keep in mind throughout this discussion… Read More

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