Psychology 2990A/B Lecture Notes - George Iii Of The United Kingdom, Insanity Defense, Investigative Psychology
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Psychology and the law
Forensic psychology in police investigations
Fitness to stand trail and mental state of the person
A. What does fitness mean?
- to receive a fair trail, ppl should be able to defent themselves against the accusers
B. What is person is unfit to stand trail?
- person should not be tried
- How do we know if a person is fit or unfit ro sand trail?
C. Legal standards for determining fitness
1. Prior to 1836: ability to enter a plea
- Reason for not entering plea: “mute of malice” (deliberately silent)
- if so, can use torture to extract a plea
- “ mute by visitation of God” (Eg: deaf, mute or insane)
- if so, person should not be tried
2. R vs. Pritchard (836) : charged with bestiality. Also, a deaf-mute, so couldn’t
- enter plea; couldn’t ne tried for the crime.
- he was deaf and retarded, so he didn’t go on trail
- court establishes clearer legal standard: able to enter a plea, AND
- must have “sufficient intellect” to understand procedings.
- Canada’s fitness standard for next 156 years.
3. Canada’s Bill C-30 (1992): Revision to Section 2 of criminal code
- provided a new “fitness” standard:
Person is unfit to stand on trail if:
- person had a mental disorder
- -disorder interferes with ability to conduct a defence. Three criteria or “elements”:
Unable b/c of mental disorder to :
1. Understanding nature and object of proceedings
2. Understand possible consequences
3. Communicate with counsel
Three other things about Section 2:
- fitness assumed unless unfitness is shown “on balance of probabilities” (lower
standard than beyond a reasonable doubt);
- they might be a little it to stay on trail, but they will not be on trial just to be safe.
- If 51% probable to stay on trail,
- Party raising issue has burden of proving unfitness; the defense and the
prosecution side can make this point
- The court determines whether burden is met (whether accused is fit or unfit).
D. How do we assess fitness to stand trail?
1. who can made an assessment?
- prior to 2005, only “medical doctors” can provide assessments to courts (don’t
have to be “experts” in mental disorders),
- in 2005, expanded to include “other qualified professionals (includes
- psychologists do these assessments in US and Australia
2. Another role of psychologists:
- develop the tests that are used to assess fitness
- the medical doctor will be presented this assessment and the MD would be allowed
to show it in court.
3. How is fitness assessed?
- show that person has mental disorder and
- disorder interferes with criteria in section 2
Fitness interview test – Revised (FIT-R)
- it had to revised to accommodate the change in the Bill C – 30
- Has three sections in FIT-R:
- Nature and object of proceedings. Includes:
- Arrest process and specific charges;
- Understand the role of judges, prosecutor, defense attorney, and jury;
- Court procedures (eg: can disagree with witnesses who testify against him/her)
Consequences of proceedings. Includes Eg:
-range and nature of penalties eg: being sent to prison; eligibility for parole
Ability to communicate with counsel
- can communicate facts of case to lawyers
- can plan assist with legal defense strategy
- can testify (if required)
- can manage courtroom behavior
Note: FIT-R does not assess mental disorder (other tests are used eg: DSM-IV)
E. What happens after assessment?
- assessmen report is submitted to court.
- court makes its own judgement:
If Fit to stand trail, proceedings continue.
- accused can be detained in custody if reason to believe he/she might become
If Unfit, proceedings are temporarily stopped
- goal: restore fitness (using “treatment”)
- In Canada, usual treatment was medication to control mental disorder
- Once the meds are given and fitness is restored they might be able to meet the 3
- Since 2005, psychological treatment are more common to achieve criteria to
Part 2: Mental state at the time of the offence
- focus on past mental state
A. What does “guilty” mean?
- two elements must be present:
1. A “wrongful deed” (actus reus)
2. Criminal or “evil” intent (mens rea)
- a guilty mind.
- Eg: at times, I might kill but not know have a guilty intent
B. Legal standards for determining absence of guilty mind
- 1700s : the “wild beast”standard
- “totally deprived of understanding, no more than a infant, wild beast” - this was the
standard to prove for an unguilty mind.
- 1736 : Lord Hale – level of understanding less than a normal 14 year old.
- 1800s : Two important cases
1. Hadfield attempts to shoot King George 3 of England; charged with treason;
pleads insanity. Jury agrees.
- Not guilty by reason of insanity
- he was set free!
- verdict infuriates public: accused can “get off” simply by pleading insanity?
The Criminal lunatics act (1800)
- anyone found not guilty for the reason of insanity could be confined in mental
facility for life.
- In 1991, this act actually went against the charter of rights and they had to change
it and then reinforce this act.
- Adopted in Canada until 1992
2. The case of Daniel M’Naghten (1843)
- attempts to shoot British PM (kills his secretary); charged with murder; pleads
NGRI; 9 experts agree; jury agrees
- public is infuriated, in reality he spent the rest of his life in an insane asylum
- Queen Victoria is also not amused with the verdict
- She demands a tougher standard for insanity defense
- 15 judges were called together and came up with the M’Naghten rule.
- Suffered from defect of reason/disease f mind at of offence (mental disorder);
- Did not understand nature or quality of act
- Did not know that the act was wrong. Eg: if you didn’t understand that killing is
wrong, then you are not guilty.
- Adopted in Canada! – didn’t change for another 150 years
C. Two things change in Canada (1990s)
1. R vs. Swain (1991): Supreme court says you cant detain mentally ill indefinitely
(violates sections 7 (right to liberty) and 9 (right not to be arbitrally detained) of
- you are detained at the pleasure of lieutenant governor if you are proved insane –
wanted to change this b/c it went against the charter.
2. Bill C-30 (1992) – changes section 16 of criminal code:
- adopts 3 basic elements of M’Naghten rule
- NGRI changed to “not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder”
- WHY THIS CHANGE?
- To avoid this 2 element of the definition of guilty, they just changed the sentencing.
- Introduced “capping” (max time person can be help in custody; repealed in 2005).
- Review boards to over
- see care/disposition of people found NCRMD.
D. Assessing NCRMD
1. Some basics
- assessment by qualified professionals eg: MD or psychologists
- must show tha a mental disorder existed at time of offence and;