Forensic psychology is a field of psychology that applies psychological principles to the legal system. It involves understanding and analyzing psychological issues that may have an impact on criminal or civil cases, such as those involving juveniles. Forensic psychologists often work in juvenile courts, providing services such as assessment, intervention and consultation (Briere & Scott, 2007). This paper will discuss the role of forensic psychologists in juvenile courts.
The primary role of a forensic psychologist working in juvenile court is to provide assessments. A psychological evaluation can help determine factors relevant to a case such as mental health status, emotional stability, cognitive functioning and risk for dangerous behavior (Melton et al., 1997). The psychologist’s findings are then presented to the court so that judges can make informed decisions regarding sentencing or other court actions. Additionally, assessments by forensic psychologists are often used when deciding if a minor should be tried as an adult or remain under juvenile jurisdiction (Johnston & Pennypacker 2009).
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