Forensic psychology is used in the criminal investigation to help law enforcement agencies and courts of law to ascertain the real facts in any disputed matter. This discipline helps in custody disputes, insurance claims, and lawsuits to substantiate or reject claims made by the parties involved in the dispute which must be settled by the court in accordance with the available evidence. Forensic psychologists mostly work in family courts to determine instances of child abuse, rights of parental access in child custody cases and perform evaluations for the court to reach a fair settlement of the case. Their work includes providing expertise, second opinions, and psychotherapy for victims of crime and assesses the mental capabilities of juveniles and adult offenders.
In movies and television serials, forensic psychologists are often depicted as criminal profilers who possess the capability to figure out a criminal’s next move and prevent the actual crime from being perpetrated before it happens.
In real life, forensic psychologists use science to help civil and criminal courts make the right judgments and pass a sentence or declare an offender innocent of the crime based on scientific evidence unearthed during their investigations. There are some major differences between practicing forensic psychology and clinical psychology. People who intend to become forensic psychologists should be aware of these differences so that they avoid ethical transgressions.
Ethical violations may occur for several reasons which might include working in a profession with dissimilar cultural norms Ethical issues invariably crop up if the psychologist does not have specialized knowledge of the specific issue being handled, or does not maintain neutrality and supports a specific person or party in the dispute.
Professional ethics may also be violated if the person does not have the requisite specialized training for the job and assumes that the attorney that the person is working with should provide the legal, ethical, and professional information necessary to carry out his/her functions as a forensic psychologists. Another contentious issue can be the assumption that different jurisdictions are identical for purposes of the implementation of laws.
Forensic psychologists must also understand and realize various aspects of evidence that would be compatible with their work and the legal system. Sometimes monetary reasons hamper their functions as they might feel that they must comply with the wishes or instructions of the attorney who is paying for their services. Sometimes ethical transgressions could be the failure to appreciate and recognize the exceptional matters concerning discretion and the disclosure of privileged communications that could cause a conflict of interest for their clients.