Forensic Psychiatry Forensic psychiatry is the study of both law and the science of psychiatry. This sub-specialty of psychiatry is an important component of any court case. Psychiatrists that choose to go into the field frequently work with attorneys to help with cases involving forensic components. They can be called to court during trials to testify on a patient’s competency to stand trial, usually relating to a mental disorder of some kind. Their sentence recommendations may affect the outcome of a case, whether in front of a judge or jury.
The legal opinions of forensic psychiatrists are coveted in a court of law because of their unique professional outlook on criminal and civil cases. They most often have met several times with the patient and have formed opinions of their mental state. They can be called as expert witnesses for the defense or prosecution teams.
Forensic psychiatrists can prescribe medication, as they are essentially medical doctors. Psychologists, on the other hand, cannot prescribe medication. The field of forensic psychiatry can be an exciting one. It takes dedication to break out into this field and lots of schooling. Forensic psychiatrists can provide confidential treatments, support and advice, diagnosis, and outpatient care for children and adults. They can even offer criminal profiles based on preliminary information.
Forensic psychiatry is a relatively new branch of psychology, and is categorized under psychiatry and criminology. While the newspapers and TVs have been plastered with sensationalized accounts of forensic psychiatry used in popular cases in recent decades, the blending of psychology and law dates back centuries.
From criminal profiles and expert legal testimony to medical diagnosis and clinical review, forensic psychiatry involves a marriage of science and law, for both criminal and civil cases.