Psychiatry and the law are interrelated
The forensic psychiatrist evaluates issues at the interface of psychiatry and the law. Here are some typical scenarios:
- A criminal defendant wants to make a plea for insanity;
- A couple are involved in a child custody dispute and a judge wants the family evaluated;
- A prosecutor or defense attorney needs a psychiatric evaluation to see if an alleged perpetrator is competent to stand trial;
- A child is alleged to have been sexually abused;
- An adult sues a church, claiming he was sexually abused as a child by a member of the clergy;
- A woman sues an employer, claiming psychological distress from being sexually harassed at work;
- A psychiatric patient, under care, commits suicide and the family sues the doctor for malpractice;
- A convicted murderer facing the death penalty is evaluated for possible psychiatric mitigation;
- The parents of a child with special needs do not believe the school is providing adequate services for their son or daughter;
- The FBI, police or other law enforcement agencies need help in profiling a wanted man or woman suspected of criminal activity;
- A family whose child was placed in foster care now wants the child returned.
- A baby has birth complications, such as brachial plexus palsy, breathing problems after a Cesarean-Section, etc., and later is evaluated for possible psychiatric problems related to the birth;
- Deportation of a parent can cause psychiatric harm to her child;
- A child suffers posttraumatic stress disorder after witnessing the death of a parent.