A forensic psychologist analyzes an individual’s mental status from a psychological and legal point of view. Professionals employed in forensic psychology careers work in a variety of facilities including detention centers and criminal investigative agencies. These psychologists deal with matters involving adults and youth.
One of the forensic psychology careers available for a forensic psychologist is a jury consultant. Most jury consultants work with legal consulting firms and retained by attorneys to provide insight as to how a jury might decide a case. Jury consultants are typically hired in high-profile cases where the verdict may reach millions of dollars if a defendant is found guilty and also for complex criminal trials. These individuals research jury panels, create juror profiles and assist with trial strategies.
Another profession in forensic psychology careers is that of criminal profilers who use psychology and behavioral science to develop a mental profile of a criminal. Investigative divisions such as the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and other law enforcement agencies employ profilers to assist with cases. Profilers review evidence found at crime scenes regarding the alleged criminal, review witnesses and study clues left by the criminal to create a behavioral, mental and physical profile. Investigators then use the profile to get information about the person who may have committed the crimes.
Many individuals who work in forensic psychology careers are employed as forensic psychologists in the courts. These psychologists evaluate criminals and inmates for the court prior to trial and before probation hearings. Judges use forensic psychologists to evaluate the criminal’s mental condition, determine if the person was sane at the time the crime was committed and is competent to stand trial. Forensic psychologists also analyze criminals who are eligible for release to see if the person is really reformed and ready to return to society.
A juvenile forensic psychologist works in one of forensic psychology careers that deal with young offenders. Juvenile forensic psychologists go to juvenile detention centers to check the youth’s mental status and basic understanding of the legal system. This is helpful in a court of law because some youthful offenders do not fully comprehend the severity of their actions. An evaluation is also needed to determine if a person who has committed a crime at such a young age is capable of being rehabilitated or should continue their sentence in an adult facility.
People who work in forensic psychology careers have at least a four-year degree in psychology and many have advanced degrees in this field. These individuals also have taken courses relating to legal analysis and have knowledge of how the court system works. Psychologists have to be willing to help others, have patience in stressful conditions and be aware of the risks associated with working with offenders who could become violent.