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Flashcards in Forensic Psych Test #3 Deck (56)
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How is a death sentence considered

-When a homicide is committed a prosecutor is given some "guided" discretion as to whether or not a murder under "special circumstances" becomes a capital case
-The defense attorney's job is to convince the prosecutor not to seek the death penalty


Examples of aggravating factors

-Murder of a law enforcement official
-Murder after kidnapping
-Defendant is dangerous or a risk to others
-History of violence
-Murder for hire
-Murder of two or more people


Why was the death penalty outlawed

Furman V. Georgia in 1972 outlawed the death penalty because its arbitrary and discriminatory application qualified it as "cruel and unusual punishment"


What is the role of forensic psychologists in death penalty cases

-A competency to stand trial assessment
-Assess pretrial publicity to assess knowledge and bias in the case - could request a change of venue


Death Qualification Procedure

Prior to the trial the prospective jurors are asked if they are so opposed to capitol punishment that they could not vote for the death penalty under any circumstances regardless of the facts


Bifurcated trial

A trial with two phases


What evidence can be introduced in a bifurcated trial and when can it be introduced

Evidence that was not allowed during the guilt determination phase because it would be deemed prejudicial may be allowed during the sentencing phase


Examples of mitigating factors

-No significant prior criminal record
-Youth of defendant
-Duress, coercion, or domination by another
-Extreme emotion
-Limited understanding of the consequences of the act
-Mental retardation


Reasons a defendant can appeal his or her sentence

-If a defendant feels he or she was inadequately represented
-If exculpatory evidence was uncovered after the trial


Describe the law regarding the execution of mentally retarded individuals

-18 states did not allow it as of 2002 (12 of them do not have a death penalty)
-Atkins V. Virginia stated that it was cruel and unusual punishment


Know the research on the deterrent effects of the death penalty

-States with the death penalty have the highest homicide rates

Brutilization effect: Human life is held less sacred


Most often used means of excecution in the US

-Lethal injection (36 states)
-Electrocution (10 states)
-Gas Chamber (5 states)


Know the reasons that can be used in some states to excuse criminal behavior

-Legal insanity


Legal insanity

-A person who is unaware of the meaning of his or her act and should not be held criminally responsible for them



-An individual acted under duress when a person threatened him or her with death or serious bodily harm


Mens rea

-"Guilty mind"
-Is only possible if there was free will and intent to do harm



-Guilty but mentally ill
-"attempts" to provide treatment within a correctional setting for defendants with psychiatric disorders



Not guilty by reason of insanity
-Usually committed to a psychiatric hospital and will stay until they no longer have psychiatric problems



The conscious fabrication or gross exaggeration of physical or psychological symptoms done in order to achieve external goals such as avoiding prison


Earliest Insanity Defense

-13th century England
-"Wild beast test" - based on the belief that individuals who had no more control over their behavior than a wild beast should not be held responsible for their behavior


M'Naghten Rule

-Person was suffering from "a defect of reason, arising from a disease of the mind"
-Cognitive test of insanity : emphasizes the quality of the person's thought processes and perceptions at the time of the crime
-Criticized for its narrow focus on people's cognitive knowledge
-Used in about half of the U.S.


Irresistible Impulse Standard

-Temporary supplement to the M'Naghten rule
-Stated that even if the person know right from wrong, his or her free will was so destroyed or overruled that the person lost power to choose between right and wrong


Durham Rule

-Was developed as a continued reaction to the M'Naghten rule even with the added irresistible impulse standard
-Stated that the accused was not criminally responsible if his or her unlawful act was a product of mental disease or defect
-Experts were using any familiar clinical diagnosis to help people beat their convictions


American Law Institute Standard (Brawner Rule)

-Was developed due to the criticism of the Durham rule
-Is comprehensive
-1) Cognitive: Can't appreciate wrongfulness
2) Volition - Can't conform to his or her conduct


ALI Standard

-A person is not responsible for criminal conduct if at the time of the action, as a result of mental disease or defect, he or she lacks substantial capacity either to appreciate the criminality of his or her conduct or to conform his or her conduct to the requirements of the law


What changes have occured since the Hinkley case

-The law on insanity defense was re-written
-Many states narrowed the defense and some shifted the burden of proof from the prosecution to the defense, making NGRI an "affirmative" defense
-Some narrowed the range of testimony psychiatric experts could give
-12 states started a possible verdict of "guilty but mentally ill" but still retained the possible verdict of NGRI


What does the defendant give up when he or she pleads guilty

-Right to jury trial
-Right to confront accuser


What is required for a person to be deemed competent to stand trial

-Defendant must:
-Understand the criminal proceedings (including the role of the participants)
-Must be able to function in that process (must be able to consult with counsel)


What is necessary to demonstrate in cases involving childhood trauma for both civil and criminal trials

-Evidence that the child was the victim of an event
-In a civil trial a diagnosis is more important
-Proof of competency


Relationship between childhood sexual abuse and PTSD

Studies show that half of all sexually abused children will meet full or partial criteria for PTSD (of known cases)