Risk Assessment

Risk Assessment

Violence Risk Assessment

Comprehensive violence specific evaluation to determine a defendant’s risk for future violence and treatment needs. This evaluation is often used during the sentencing of a case. The assessment will include a clinical interview, review of records, contact with collateral sources when appropriate and the administration of personality, intelligence and or risk assessment measures as needed.

Risk Assessment for Sexual Offending (PC 288.1)

Comprehensive sexual offenses specific evaluation to determine risk for sexual re-offense examination of mental condition and treatment needs. This evaluation is often ordered by the court and may be used in the sentencing phase of a case. This evaluation will include a clinical interview, review of records, interview with collateral sources when appropriate and the administration of personality intelligence and or risk assessment measures. Treatment recommendations will be provided.

  • All sex offender evaluations or psychosexual evaluations include a detailed risk assessment that includes use of actuarial and dynamic risk instruments as well protective factors. Recidivism rates are not uniform across all sex offenders and most sexual offenders never go on to commit another sexual offense. First time sex offenders are significantly less likely to sexually re-offend than are those with previous sexual convictions. In addition, for those sex offenders who have re-offended, the longer they remain in the community offense-free, the less likely they are to re-offend sexually. Research has shown that cognitive-behavioral treatment for sex offenders is associated with reductions in sexual offense recidivism rates.In cases where the client does not show sexual deviance or any other paraphilic condition, our reports include information arguing against sex offender registration as supported by empirical research. This empirical research shows that sex offender registration and notification laws can impede an offender’s attempts at community reintegration efforts and potentially contribute to an increased likelihood for recidivism (Levenson and Tewksbury, 2009). Growing bodies of research highlight the adverse effects of sex offender registration and notification laws. Specifically, registered sex offenders reported having lost housing and jobs as a result of registration, having been physically threatened or harassed, property damage, economic hardship, and numerous psychosocial consequences, such as depression, feelings of shame, isolation, and guilt (Mercado, Alvarez, and Levenson, 2008).
  • Penal Code 288.1 requires a mental health evaluation for anyone “convicted of committing any lewd or lascivious act” against a child under age 14 before the court can release them on probation. The court cannot release the offender on probation until it has received and reviewed this report and can reasonably determine from the report that the offender no longer poses a danger to children and is unlikely to reoffend.
The PC 288.1 report includes:
  1. the circumstances of the offense
  2. the defendant’s psychosexual history
  3. risk assessment
  4. The emphasis of the evaluation is on whether the conduct is likely to recur, and whether the defendant continues to be a danger to other children.
If the court does order a report, it must be issued by either:
  1. a reputable psychiatrist, or
  2. a reputable licensed psychologist who has:
  • a doctoral degree in psychology, and
  • at least five years of postgraduate experience in the diagnosis and treatment of emotional and mental disorders.
People v. Thompson (1989) 214 Cal.App.3d 1547, Cal. Rptr. 272 notes the following: “It is clear from the language of section 288.1 that a report is not mandated in every lewd or lascivious act case… Only if the trial court is inclined to grant probation must a report be ordered. The obvious intent of the Legislature in enacting this statute was to protect society by requiring a psychiatric or psychological report insuring that defendant is a suitable candidate for probation. Where the court, as in this case, has no intention of granting probation, and the record supports such a denial of probation, a section 288.1 report is not mandated. In other words, if after reviewing all the facts, the pre-sentence report and the statements in mitigation and aggravation, the court does not feel that probation is proper, then there is no duty to request a section 288.1 report.” As such, even if the court does not order a report, an attorney can request a PC 288.1 evaluation. Our Evaluation: Clinical interview with the inmate including comprehensive psychosexual history
  • Early Sexual Experiences
  • Deviant/Unusual Sexual Behaviors & Interests
  • Masturbation/Fantasies
  • Pornography Use
    • Assessment deception, denial, minimization and use of justifications
    • Acceptance of responsibility and accountability for behavior
    • Motivation and amenability for treatment
    • Level of treatment and supervision need
    • Mental status examination on the inmate
    • Review of discovery and legal records including police reports, probation officer reports, abstract of judgment, criminal history (RAP sheet), and felony complaint.
    • Actuarial risk assessment – Static-99R
    • Dynamic risk assessment – Stable-2007 or Violence Risk Scale – Sexual Offense Version (VRS-SO)
    • Assessment of protective and individual risk factors
    • Diagnosis, if any
    • Treatment recommendations
    • Supervision recommendations (Containment Model, polygraphy, phallometric assessment)
    • Written Report
    • Consultation with the attorney
Expert testimony is also provided when requested in PC 288.1 cases.
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.