It is essential to pay attention to characteristics of a case in the process of its investigation. Experts claim that offender profiling, which refers to understanding features or characteristics of individuals, is critical in any case. Therefore, it is understandable that nowadays courts rely on advice from different quotas in solving some cases. In practice, cases require expert opinion. In such circumstances, calling experts, such as behavioral scientist or technical analyzers, assumes significance. The current paper assesses the applicability of behavioral science in criminal investigations and other aspects of forensic science.
Evidence plays an important role in the delivery of justice. As a result, courts depend on an array of evidence before making a decision. The evidence might range from forensic to psychological depending on the circumstances involved (Faust, Grimm, Ahern, & Sokolik, 2010). Before reaching a decision, investigators must perform a thorough evaluation of available evidence before presenting it to the judges. Thereafter, the jury has the power to determine the admissibility of the evidence.
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Focus on networks, relationships, and dynamics characterizing individual interactions.
Are used to prevent, disrupt, and lower the rate of crime.
Help through the exploration of societal issues that enhance crime.
Behavioral science is a multidisciplinary field that encompasses economics, sociology, anthropology, criminology, psychology, and communication (Faust et al., 2010). It plays a major role in understanding organized crime. It achieves the objective through the exploration of social dynamics, which are central to understanding crime and its motivations. Thus, the reliance on the disciplines ensures that the analysis of crime is rooted in societal life. Through the understanding, it becomes possible to break negative associations that lead to crime.
Regarding organized crime, the approach assists in understanding the motive of offenders, the role of group criminals, and detection of deception or truthfulness among perpetrators and victims. Besides, it facilitates communication between law enforcers and criminals (Edwards & Sheptycki, 2009). For instance, the National Crime Agency (NCA) created the Behavioral Science Unit with the intention of supporting investigations that focus on the analysis and prediction, and influence the intention of suspects.
Requirements Necessary to Obtain Expert Witness Designation and Acceptance of Expert Witness Testimony
Designation requires technical knowledge in support of factual evidence.
Cases involving scientific knowledge.
The decision by judges/ jury determines the acceptance of witness evidence.
To obtain expert evidence designation, a witness must prove his/ her credentials as an expert in a given field, e.g. forensic science or psychology. An individual must be able to assist the court to comprehend aspects to a case that are technical/ complex in nature. Thus, the court will make informed determination of the issue under consideration. Unlike lay witnesses who give factual evidence, expert witnesses provide opinionated evidence. For example, in a case involving reckless driving, an individual is designated as an expert witness if he/she is able to assist the court by providing technical analysis of the case.
Designation of an individual as an expert witness is critical in matters that require detailed or scientific knowledge (Edwards & Sheptycki, 2009). However, Civil Procedure Rules do not disallow calling of such evidence even in fact-based cases. In order for such a situation to happen, the matter in dispute must be beyond the knowledge of the judge/ jury. Based on the recommendations of Lord Woolf following a detailed inquiry, the use of expert witness is subject to the decision of the court (Edwards & Sheptycki, 2009). Judges decide if they need the evidence or not.
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Court Rules Pertaining to Behavioral Science Evidence
The Dauberty rule.
Relevance and reliability rule.
Faust, Grimm, Ahern, and Sokolik (2010) observed that, since the Daubet case, rules pertaining to the admissibility of science-based evidence have changed. According to the authors, court rules allow behavioral science evidence in courts given their role in accounting and predicting human conduct. Often, the evidence comprises general assertions relating to groups of persons, such as victims of rape, and is extended for the purpose of providing psychological or social context in order to facilitate the judges understanding of such crimes. The provision of the evidence is geared towards identifying consistency or inconsistency in behavior related to abuse. For instance, a behavioral expert might explain to the court the reason a victim of abuse delays to report a crime. Similarly, through the elaboration of issues by a behavioral science expert, the jury can understand the circumstances or motivations of crime commission.
Across different jurisdictions, for evidence to be admitted, the court rules demand that it meets the reliability criteria. Evidence is reliable if it is consistent and valid. Despite the stringent requirement, behavioral science evidence continues being admitted even when certain issues are unmet. Thus, the Daubert development has not had a significant effect on the admissibility of evidence as pertaining to reliability.
Areas of Forensic Science and Psychological Profiling that may be Challenged During Court Proceedings
Accuracy of forensic science.
Reliability/ replicability of psychological profiling.
A number of factors negate the use of forensic and psychological profiling as forensic science is not always accurate (Kebbell & Davies, 2006). As a result, there is no guarantee that the outcome will facilitate mistake-proof convictions. Many methods used in conducting forensic investigations, such as the use of blood spatters and hair samples, are subject to inappropriate handling. In other instances, Kebbell and Davies (2006) acknowledged that the technicians who handle the specimen do not have the requisite training to conduct such tasks. The bottom-line is that the use of forensic evidence might lead to the conviction of wrong persons. Kebbell and Davies (2006) also noted that the reliance on forensic profiling has led to the release of individuals convicted after presenting the other forms of evidence.
Regarding psychological evidence, Kebbell and Davies (2006) acknowledged that the reliance on behavior analysis and predictions is difficult to replicate. In other words, behavioral sciences are defective in establishing causes of crime. Dependence on behavior patterns implies that investigators can make errors in judgment, which might lead to the provision of misleading/ false evidence. Thus, increasing the reliability of psychological evidence is a fundamental challenge in court cases.
From the paper, it can be inferred that forensic evidence is a part of evidence (objects/ information) that is admissible in courts whenever judges/ jury are convinced that it is necessary. In practice, genetic material, dental history, chemicals or fingerprints are commonly used as forensic evidence that serves numerous roles, such as reinforcing the other sources of evidence. However, investigators have to thoroughly perform their activities in order to ensure that the evidence is accurate and therefore mistakes could be avoided. The same case concerns behavioral science evidence, which rests on the opinion of experts in a given field. As observed, the jury might determine that it is necessary to listen to experts in order to clarify circumstances surrounding the commission of crimes. However, the admissibility of evidence in courts depends on the decision of the bench hearing the case in question.