Criminal Forensic Psychology

Include question in your answer but do not use towards your page count. Paper should be at least 12 pages with the questions included.

I.    Across several different topics this semester we have encountered situations in which the courts grapple with whether the decision to exclude evidence should be made using the standard of  totality of the circumstances  or whether there should be a Per Se exclusion.

1)    Identify at least one case (covered in this course) relating to eyewitness identification where this issue was discussed. Which way did the court come down (that is, did they decide there should be a per se exclusion or did they decide that the standard should be  totality of the circumstances)? Briefly describe the details of the case and explain the court’s decision. (2 points)

2)    Identify at least one case (covered in this course) related to confessions (either adult or juvenile) in which this issue of per se versus totality of circumstances was discussed. Which way did the court come down (that is, did they decide there should be a per se exclusion or did they decide that the standard should be totality of the circumstances)? Briefly describe the details of the case and explain the court’s decision. (2 points)

3)    Identify one advantage of using the per se standard and one advantage of using the totality of circumstances  standard to determine if evidence should be excluded. (3 points)

II.    The death penalty is a very controversial issue and the courts have flip-flopped in terms of setting standards for implementation of this punishment.

1)    Describe a case (covered in this course) in which the Supreme Case considered the impact of race on the imposition of the death penalty. What was the court’s ruling? How did the court deal with social science data related to the issue? Do you think the court appropriately applied the social science data (explain your opinion)? (3 points)

2)    What has the Supreme Court most recently decided about the constitutionality of executing mentally retarded defendants? Identify the case, as well as the previous Supreme Court case on this issue, and briefly explain the court’s rationale for its most recent decision.   (2 points)

3)    What has the Supreme Court most recently decided about the constitutionality of executing juvenile defendants? Identify the case, as well as the previous Supreme Court case on this issue, and explain the court’s rationale for its most recent decision. (2 points)

III.    Discuss your understanding of the current state of the field regarding violence risk assessment in terms of the following:

1)   What do we mean by an actuarial risk assessment tool? Name one such tool for violence risk assessment and one for sexual violence risk assessment. (2 points)

2)  Violence risk can be assessed either through use of actuarial tools or through structured clinical judgment.  Describe at least one advantage and one disadvantage of using: a) an actuarial tool; and b) structured clinical judgment, to assess risk of violent recidivism. (3 points)

3) What is the relationship between mental illness and violence? Be sure to cite the bases for your conclusions (that is, cite the research that justifies the conclusion). (3 points)

IV.      In order for a defendant to give a valid confession, he or she must do so knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily.

1) In the lecture and the text, we discussed the case of Colorado v. Connelly. Which of the 3 elements (knowing, intelligent, voluntary) was the focus of the Connelly case? Briefly describe the case, the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling (that is, did the court decide that the confession should be admissible or not), and the court’s rationale. (3 points)

2)  What are the 3 types of false confessions identified in the literature?  Briefly describe the characteristics of these types of false confessions. (3 points)

3)  The literature  focuses on three factors that can contribute to false confessions: situational factors, intellectual factors , and personality factors.  Choose two of these three factors and briefly explain how they can lead to false confessions. (2 points)

Extra Credit question (optional): (2 points)

V.    An inmate who has completed his sentence for a charge of Rape is facing commitment as a Sexually Dangerous Predator. His lawyer claims that the hearing cannot proceed because the inmate is mentally ill and not competent to stand trial. The prosecutor does not contest that the man is mentally ill but claims that a sex offender commitment hearing can proceed without the defendant being competent to stand trial.  What is your opinion? Explain your rationale.


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