The case scenario being analyzed is Can You Point Out the Person You Saw in the Park? (Eyewitness Memory and Recovered Memory). This scenario included a girl aged 11 who was kidnapped while on holiday with her parents in a large park. When more than 30 minutes had passed, the police were contacted after the missing youngster was found. Twenty others reported seeing the girl but could not identify the man with her. The girl’s body is discovered in a garbage can with traces of brutality after the park closes. Eight eyewitnesses identified the missing girl as Hispanic and four as African American, helping to create a picture of the missing girl’s background. Five people were eventually identified when the sketch was published, although the witnesses’ testimonies varied and lacked detail.
The forensic psychologist should address various issues in this situation because his job is to determine the incident’s circumstances. The psychologist should determine the interview settings with the witnesses as they might have changed their conscious memories due to their discomfort. To classify all the material gathered, the forensic psychologist should address the question of determining the veracity of the testimony and how it was provided to the investigators. In order to prevent making baseless accusations, psychologists must address the problem of identifying bias and its existence and causes.
The needs of the client, court, and defendant team must be met to ensure the issues mentioned above are handled. For the client, knowledge of his rights, aid with prosecution strategies, communication skills with the court and the inquiry, and maintenance of subordination given the case’s particulars are needed. For the defense, having a consistent line of defense with supporting evidence and the use of accurate and reliable material is essential. For the court, a thorough study of the evidence from both parties, personnel, and scrutiny of police records are required.
Eyewitness accounts could serve as the foundation upon which a case is formed. Therefore, a forensic psychiatrist’s evaluation of eyewitnesses and their testimony is an essential duty. Criminal interviews with survivors, witnesses, and suspects yield crucial investigation leads and have an impact on the evidence used in subsequent court proceedings. Compelling interviews produce reliable, high-quality information, which enhances probing (Durrant, 2018). Instead, inappropriate questioning runs the danger of revealing false information, eroding the reliability of a witness or victim, and jeopardizing the integrity of the inquiry. Most importantly, poor interviewing methods can lead to severe injustices.
In the hypothetical case, the detective in charge of the investigation notices issues with collecting corroborating evidence and DNA samples. Therefore, eyewitness accounts are the only proof the police have. Additionally, studies have shown that a person’s recall of an occurrence may not coincide with the information they choose to share in an interview (Melinder et al., 2020). The circumstance shows that, when given a picture presented by the parents, just three out of the 20 clients who were quizzed could correctly identify the daughter in a photo lineup. Investigators might use elements of forensic psychology to assist such witnesses in reconstructing their memories of the events to find crucial information. So, forensic interrogation is the best scientific practice for researchers in this situation.
A forensic interview is typically the first step in child protective services (CPS) investigation. Using this technique, the information needed to evaluate if a crime has been committed is combined with proof that if the investigation yields prosecution, it will lead to criminal charges. As per studies, forensic psychologists ought to conduct moral interviews that follow the law by attesting the interviewer is impartial, exploiting non-leading techniques, and ranking detailed interview certification (Allan, 2018). Additionally, since most perpetrators deny the abuse and most abusive acts go unnoticed, the victim’s declaration is a critical piece of evidence in child brutality cases.
The psychologist should perform controlled forensic consultations to ensure that evidence is gathered in a way acceptable in court. Witnesses must maintain objectivity in their remarks and body language, and any potential conflicts with their testimony must be thoroughly examined. For instance, when speaking with witnesses who say they can recognize the man but not the female, the psychologist should not be confrontational or demanding. Furthermore, data shows that accurately documented interview results may withstand judicial scrutiny (Rosoff, 2019). The forensic psychologist can use these results to develop evidence-based strategies and successfully serve clients.
Overall, the unreliability of eyewitness testimony has led academics to work to advance retrieval methods. The cognitive interview (CI) is an example of the psychological theories that can be used in this scenario. Detectives use the CI technique to get more details about a crime scene from eyewitnesses and the victim. Geiselman et al. (1985) developed the CI to replace the Standard Interview (McLeod, 2021). The CI reflects cognitive understandings of cue-dependent neurosis and entails four stages to set off many indications and exploit different recovery pathways.
- Stage 1: Reaffirm the situation.
- Stage 2: Recounting proceedings in the order they occurred
- Stage 3: Share every detail they can reminisce.
- Stage 4: Describe what happened from the lookout of another individual.
There are various ways to retrieve memories since they are connected in a web in the human brain instead of being made up of discrete, independent experiences. The CI benefits from this by utilizing a variety of retrieval mechanisms (McLeod, 2021). The forensic psychologist may use this technique to interrogate witnesses. The cognitive interview may be used in conjunction with forensic interrogation to guarantee that the investigator obtains sufficient and trustworthy information from the witnesses. Both strategies may be essential when interrogating the 12 individuals who gave the various racial characteristics of the suspect.
Forensic psychologists are aware that the conditions that lead to a person being subjected to a psychic examination during legal proceedings may significantly impact their behavior in several important ways. For instance, just three witnesses could identify the girl in the case even though 15 said the man in the sketch matched the man they saw with her. This ought to prove that the eyewitnesses are lying to the psychologist. The girl might have been another person’s kid, and because the accused is still at large, it is impossible to predict whose kid will be the next. As a result, the witnesses must be informed of this. They will be inspired to offer as many details as possible in this way.
Those who receive forensic aid cannot accurately forecast the techniques and procedures of forensic professionals due to their complexity. As a result, the forensic psychologist must inform the clients of the extent and limitations of the aid provided. The kind and extent of the reasonably anticipated forensic assistance should be quickly communicated to them. For instance, if the suspect is detained, telling them their cooperation will be needed goes beyond interviews and might even require them to participate in the actual criminal trial.
Furthermore, forensic concerns typically involve sizeable rights, liberties, and assets. As a result, the forensic psychologist may come across clients who have been determined or considered to be unable to give informed permission for the anticipated interview under the law. In certain circumstances, the forensic specialist must get consent from a legally recognized person, as permitted or required by rules (Collie, 2018). Issued the important rights that can be discussed in a legal deed, the forensic psychologist must cautiously anticipate if it is appropriate to execute a forensic analysis of an individual without an advocate present.
Forensic assessors may contemplate performing such assessments or suspending them so that patrons might check with counsel. The prosecutors might gain from doing a thorough assessment of an eyewitness’s reliability to illustrate that person’s aptitude. This might aid the prosecutor address inquiries about competency. During the initial interview, it should be determined if the child or someone with poor rational capacity comprehends the need to tell the fact (Collie, 2018). Interviews with the person’s parents, guardians, teachers, or medics who are conversant with them and can confirm their intellectual capacity and ability to understand questions and clear responses are then required to ascertain the witness’s background in terms of competence are then required. Interrogating young kids and people with intellectual disabilities is a subtle and time-consuming procedure. They ought to be organized using non-leading questioning to produce responses according to the witness’s degree of maturity. Detectives with specialized interviewing skills should be engaged whenever possible.
Role of Ethics
Psychologists should use the rules in the ethical standard to adhere to protocol. In the discipline of psychology, the Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct of the American Psychological Association is a well-recognized ethical code and the primary resource for ethical principles (Hadjistavropoulos, 2020). When choosing amongst the five potential suspects who might have killed the 11-year-old girl and sexually molested her, the forensic psychologist must guarantee competence in the area. In this case, the psychologist ought to state that witness evidence is frequently prejudiced and should not be used for finding precise ideas about an incident. The expert should be aware that other persons who visited the park gave wildly divergent records. Individuals may create false reminiscences to seal in the gaps and reassure themselves of their authenticity (Laney & Loftus, 2022). In these circumstances, a forensic expert should remain professional and avoid being influenced by eyewitness bias.
A forensic scientist must maintain objectivity when making claims regarding a case. It is important to remember that forensic evidence can be used in court, mandating detailed investigation to make sure they find a reasonable solution to their issues. Even though they assert that they are objective, forensic scientists believe that bias impacts people (Sunde, 2022). Views and development significantly influence individual behavior and mental processes (Laney & Loftus, 2022). This was demonstrated by the twelve park visitors who reported encountering a member of a minority group. Although these claims are unlikely to be valid, forensic scientists should avoid utilizing partial data when making judgments and maintain objectivity.
There are various risks associated with implementing forensics psychology practices. The first danger is posed by misleading eyewitness testimony that is highly persuasive and results in a false conviction. When testifying in court, forensic scientists frequently present their discoveries as evidence against possible offenders. This suggests that to make assertions, such work necessitates a complete comprehension of the case (Ehrlich, 2021). A forensic scientist can overlook the discrepancies in a witness’s account and come to the false conclusion that a population cannot be composed of many wrongdoers. This false assumption that a statement is true because many people agree that it could have fatal results.
Four of the eyewitnesses claim the suspect was African American, but majorities of them think the crime’s perpetrator was a Latino. This variation suggests that a sizable population amongst the twenty witnesses who claimed to have seen the victim and the offender are divided regarding the physical characteristics of the offender. In this manner, the forensic scientist may be biased based on the witness’s impressions if they rely on the eyewitnesses’ most frequently accepted theory.
Law enforcement should question people to determine when they connected with the victim. For 45 minutes, the girl’s parents could not follow her whereabouts. To remove most of these people from the list, they must have alibis for the period. Eyewitnesses reported seeing five potential culprits in the park. Therefore, they should explain how they spent their time while the girl’s parents could not reach her. It is crucial to remember that there were other persons in the park at this time, some of whom might have assisted any prospective culprits in their actions. Since eyewitness statements are typically inaccurate, the forensic scientist would narrow the list of potential offenders in this situation. (Laney & Loftus, 2022). Furthermore, the forensic expert must avoid using this information and instead identify who was in the park and when they were there to undertake a thorough investigation that could produce results that are more accurate.
Implications of Diversity
The different viewpoints among various groups on matters like gender and ethnicity require forensic scientists to exercise caution. Given that the little girl was sexually molested, a male offender is the main inference. However, as the DNA test produced no results, this idea cannot be accepted as the lone approach to the issue (Wilson, 2019). As a result, it is crucial to be aware that gender bias may affect the case and result in incorrect assumptions that differ from the actual case facts (Ehrlich, 2021). Numerous witnesses to the incident also mentioned a Latino or African American man as the suspect. Racial prejudice should be lessened in cases where persons are stereotyped as potentially criminal and when a racist culture may affect the likelihood that these people would be imprisoned despite a lack of sufficient evidence to support a conviction.
It is prudent to assume that the racial connotations provided by eyewitnesses are false due to their vast variation. Additionally, the criminal’s gender should be noted as ambiguous because DNA testing produces no matches that could add to the investigation’s knowledge of the case (Cho & Nam, 2022). It is critical to establish that the investigation has no leads other than the period of the crime because this will allow the scientist to identify who was in the park at that time. Instead of relying on witnesses’ accounts of events, forensic scientists should disregard ambiguous information and concentrate on creating accurate explanations based on the facts.
Forensic scientists need to confirm racial conflict in society and not presume that every eyewitness will accurately describe the criminals who committed a crime. Every crime must be investigated to learn its motivation and whether someone nearby would profit from it (Laney & Loftus, 2022). Furthermore, forensic scientists must watch out for bias against prospective offenders and refrain from influencing eyewitnesses to believe a particular conclusion.
In the case study, the forensic psychologist’s goal is to ensure that the victims’ witnesses can be used in court. The forensic psychologist can identify which witnesses will be helpful to the prosecutor by using the evaluations. However, forensic psychologists should also prepare for their role as court officials. Working on trial preparation with the attorney is the primary preparation. In other words, the lawyer and the forensic psychologist will discuss the questions they will ask and any possible questions the other lawyer might raise. Preparation is necessary for the forensic psychologist to appear trustworthy and believable throughout the trial. For the sake of this analysis, the forensic psychologist sided with the prosecutor in asserting that the eyewitnesses who saw the kidnapper were fit and had a consistent account of the appearance of the child’s abductor.
To be adequately prepared, the forensic psychologist must thoroughly inform the witnesses and their assessments. The forensic psychologist must be aware of the identities of the final five witnesses chosen and thoroughly review their evaluations to ensure that they are prepared to respond to any inquiries about the case, given that the opposing attorney may rebuttal with additional inquiries against the prosecution. By adhering to those guidelines, the forensic psychologist will give the prosecutor a solid foundation and enable a trial that might potentially go in the prosecution’s favor.
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