General

Forensic psychology is the intersection between the clinical practice of psychology and the law. Forensic psychology is a specialty area in the broad field of psychology which focuses on the application of psychological principles and practices to answer psycho-legal questions.  Forensic psychologists assist the court in examining specific mental health aspects within the legal context. The focus is to address the legal question at hand to help the courts make appropriate decisions using empirically based research, actuarial instruments and objective psychological tests. Unlike traditional clinical psychological evaluations, where the client is frequently the person that is being assessed, in forensic psychological evaluations, the client is often the retaining party, which can either be the court, attorney, or an agency. The forensic psychologist’s role is to maintain objectivity and better inform the legal system or process with expert knowledge of mental health and human behavior. Forensic psychologists have a combination of specialized training and experience beyond the doctoral degree and provide evaluations, expert testimony in courts, and consultations to attorneys and judges throughout the legal system. These psychologists may also assist with jury selection, a process called voir dire examination.
The purpose of our forensic psychology evaluations is to assess psychological and cognitive functioning of individuals involved in legal and other administrative proceedings. Forensic psychologists conduct a forensic psychological evaluation, which will include a thorough clinical interview, comprehensive review of records, case law, collateral data, and psychological tests. Forensic evaluations can be utilized by the court to address legal issues such as competency to stand trial, criminal responsibility, transfer to adult court, sanity, risk for violence and sexual dangerousness. The forensic evaluation must adhere to very strict guidelines to insure that the findings and recommendations meet certain legal standards. When requested by the attorneys or ordered by the court, forensic psychologists conduct these evaluations in civil or criminal court cases, as well as in correctional and law enforcement settings. Unlike counseling and clinical psychological evaluations, the evaluations that are requested for the courts do not carry the same confidentiality assurances for the client. We explain and discuss these issues at the start so that the client may make a fully informed decision about their participation in the process.  Depending on the findings, we may identify and diagnosis a mental health disorder and provide recommendation for treatment planning. We also try to address the particular concerns or issues that were provided to us by the requesting party (e.g., attorney, case worker, probation officer, etc.)  Other psychological evaluations that may also be considered forensic can include, but are not limited to, evaluations of personal injury, fitness for duty, disability, parental fitness and competency to testify.
Assessing risk for violence can help courts make appropriate decisions on issues such as sentencing, granting privileges, and community reintegration. If an individual is assessed to be a high risk for future violence, a judge has grounds to order a more restrictive setting compared to someone who is a lower risk for recidivism. By tailoring court decisions based on accurate psychological evaluations, the community is safer while the defendant’s rights are also protected.
A comprehensive forensic evaluation can help facilitate better-informed legal decision making, or assist you as the attorney by performing evaluations that (depending on their outcome) may be useful in representing your client. A forensic evaluation can help address forensic questions such as “Does my client or defendant qualify for mental health diversion in California?” or “What is my client’s risk to public safety if released and treated in the community?” or “Does my client experience symptoms of PTSD and how has that impacted him?” Secondly, if a person (defendant) has a history of emotional distress, mental health treatment, special education, or cognitive impairment, an evaluation can be used for looking at mitigating factors and showing how the said disability/impairment impacts the client’s (defendant’s) decision making or functional abilities and how it relates to the instant offense. Please call the office of RPK Forensic Psychological and Consultation Services Inc. for a free 20-minute case consultation to find out how one of our specialized evaluations can assist you and your client. If you are a client interested in this service, please have your attorney reach out to us first. Issues that may warrant a forensic evaluation when being involved in a legal matter:
  • History of Trauma (sexual/physical/emotional abuse and/or general neglect)
  • History of Learning Difficulties
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Memory Impairment
  • Intellectual Difficulties
  • Attention/Concentration Impairment
  • Mental Health History
  • Current Emotional Distress
We offer different types of evaluations. Each one is customized to meet your, or your client’s needs. Forensic evaluations vary in hours needed. You are welcome to call our office to discuss a total estimated cost for your specific evaluation. For private firm attorneys, we have a retainer agreement and fee schedule we can send for your review. Our office can send you the detailed breakdown of hours, psychological tests, and total fees for the court order.
Forensic evaluations are not covered by insurance as they are not medically necessary. They are for the purpose of psycho-legal matters.