Evaluating Criminal Responsibility



Evaluating Criminal Responsibility and Risk of Re-Offense in Violent and Non-Violent Offenders

Matthew Rosario

Southern New Hampshire University

Case Study 1

Daubert Standard

With the Daubert standards rule of evidence for the admissibility, there are specific factors that pass the findings of inquiry as reliable. These factors include the reliability and acceptability of the scientific methods that the psychological evaluator utilizes. The other element of Daubert standards that will be considered is the relevance of the data that the evaluator gathers regarding the case at hand. The third component to be considered is whether the findings have been peer reviewed and also whether the potential rate of error in the findings is known.

To start with the reliability of the method with which the data has been collected, the evaluator starts off with a clear purpose for referral which is child abuse. The primary method that has been employed in this assessment is interviewing, a technique that is acceptable in science fields. The evaluator records both the patient’s declaration and his professional assessment of her behavior during this interviews. Both qualitative and quantitative analyses are employed in providing the information required for the final decision. This is a method that has been utilized in research processes over time. Also, a reliable tool that is commonly used in the medical field, the Symptoms Assessment-45 is applied in assessing the state of Miss. A. in as far as parenting is concerned. With the SA-45, it is easier to place a specific score on each item that is evaluated.

The rate of potential error in the case involving Ms. A is minimal. Any errors that may occur would only be in the psychometrics score that the evaluator provides. The rest of information is reliant on how accurate the history records such are. These records include the legal information and psychiatric and medical history among others. The information on whether the report is peer reviewed has not been provided in this case. However, since the “judge is the gatekeeper,” I would treat the report as admissible despite the fact that the error rate has not been quantified since it would be minimal given the type of information evaluated.

Interview Information

The interview information that is contained in the case involving Miss A. is divided into four categories. These include the legal history, psychiatric and medical history, vocational/employment functioning and family functioning. The mental status information, in this case, is treated as exclusively collateral information since it is the assessment of the evaluator that is reported in this case. All this information is imperative in determining the capacity of Miss A to parenting. She reports having lost her way on arrival to this assessment, a situation that anyone may find themselves in. On legal evaluation, she recently got involved with CPS after her teenage daughter eloped from her kinship placement, a situation she would not have control over.

On the psychiatric and medical front, she admits to having had a history of heroin dependence and is currently taking anxiety and mood medications. She also admits to having used crack cocaine in the past ninety days. In a controversial statement, the evaluator reports that no drug or alcohol use in the past six months. On vocational and employment functioning, Miss A reports to have completed her eighth grade as her highest education level, and also, she reported on mental and physical disability. On family relations, she reported parental alcoholism but no history of child abuse or family violence.

Collateral Information

The collateral information concerning Ms. A. is primarily drawn from the records in the health and law enforcement facilities. The doctor’s mental health assessment of Miss A. indicates that she has a normal mental capacity as can be judged by the reports about her speech, time, place and person orientation, and thinking processes. The only challenge that Miss A. is facing regarding thinking is the mild Psychomotor Retardation that her evaluator records. Legal history indicates her involvement in civil crime such as drug abuse and Fraudulent Check Charge. About her psychiatric wellness, there are no records of her having abused any form of drugs or alcohol, but she admits to having used crack cocaine within the last 90 days leading to her assessment. There were no secondary sources that would indicate Miss A’s personal relationship in the recent past.


The parent should be afforded the treatment that will help with her with ensuring that she does not abuse drugs and also socializing skills. This will be critical in ensuring that all the parties in the case are afforded the right treatment that will help in their relationship. Although the child may need to be placed in child protection, with the proper treatment, the child and mother can be reunited. However, it is important for the parent to be treated to get rid of her drug abuse behavior and to be capable of creating meaningful relationships. In the same respect, the multi-agencies that are working for the case should also plan and coordinate actions that are geared towards assessing and response to the protection needs of the child. This includes identifying the fact that the child needs guidance to cope with her traumatic past at the hands of her mother. It is important to note that the child has been through various hardships because her mother is a drug addict who has some mental challenges. It is also imperative to note that the mother being jobless can adequately cater for the child’s developmental requirements such as education and support services.

It is important for the case to be offered a holistic and culturally responsive assessment to ensure that the child gets the needed protection as soon as possible. Delays in meeting the security needs could lead to further damages to the child. It has already been reported that she had once run away from home due to the treatment that she received from her mother. In this respect, the child has revealed that she does not have trust with her mother.

The mother also needs help because her history has been marred with substance abuse. Various parts of her history have shown that she has had an even criminal history which can be attributed to her drug addiction. In this respect, it is imperative for her to be offered psychiatric services to reform her to become a responsible citizen and parent. This may help protect her child from the neglect that she has been suffering from. It is also imperative for the parent and child to go to joint counseling services to create a healthy relationship between them.

Ethical Guidelines

The ethical application relates to the fact that when the child protection agencies are working towards ensuring the safety of the child, they should not victimize the parent. The treatment that is offered to the parent should not overly focus on the child at the cost of the parent. The parent should also be afforded all the ethical aspect of the psychologists including performing a treatment that will be beneficial to the parent and child, the right to privacy, and ensuring that the resultant treatment does not harm either the parent or the child. According the American Psychological Association (APA, 2014) it is important for psychologist to take care to do no harm to their client. The APA Principle A: Beneficence and Nonmaleficence is relevant to this case because of the safety of the child and not to victimize the parent due to the obligations of the case when conflicts occur among psychologists’ obligations or concerns. The psychologists should make ever attempt to deconflict the situation and minimize harm to client or patient, when dealing with a parent and child. Therefore, it is important to understand the ethical consideration and the APA guidelines when working with clients or a case (APA, 2014).


Budd, K. S., Connell, M. A., & Clark, J. R. (2011). Evaluation of Parenting Capacity in Child Protection. New York: Oxford University Press.

Bureau of Justice Statistics (2017). Recidivism. Web. Available at https://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=tp&tid=17

Framingham, J. (2016). Types of Psychological Testing. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 26, 2017, from https://psychcentral.com/lib/types-of-psychological-testing/

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