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Psychological Pre-Sentencing Evaluations

The court may desire a psychological evaluation as part of a presentence investigation, or the defense may wish to present psychological information for the court to consider in sentencing. A presentence psychological evaluation can affect sentencing to the extent that it addresses aggravating or mitigating circumstances. 

Psychological evaluations conducted as part of presentence investigations should address any factors that relate to aggravating or mitigating circumstances. A psychological evaluation conducted at the request of the defense can focus on mitigating circumstances alone. However, under cross examination, a psychologist would be obligated to present any aggravating factors identified in the course of the evaluation, when questioned by the prosecution. 

The standard format for presentencing psychological evaluations would include a review of all pertinent discovery materials, especially the presentence report and other psychological reports completed on the defendant. The clinical interview examines the defendant's psychosocial history, including any past psychological treatment, or past criminal offenses committed as a result of a psychological disorder. Psychological testing is used to evaluate the presence of psychological disorders, psychopathy, or personality characteristics that may have mediated rational decision making or interfered with judgment or perception. The results are presented in a comprehensive psychological report, summarizing any relevant findings for the court. 

Psychologists wishing to publish articles on Forensic Psychology,
please consult the
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