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Forensic Psychology Case Study

Forensic Psychology Case Study

You are a forensic psychology professional working on a forensic unit where individuals are sent by the court for pretrial evaluations. You are assigned the following case:

 

The defendant is a 45-year-old white male charged with a single count of bank robbery. He has a well-documented history of schizophrenia, paranoid type, and has received prior treatment. He recently was released from prison where he had served 15 years for arson, which resulted in the death of his stepfather. At the time of the arson, the defendant wrongly thought his stepfather was trying to “poison” his mother. The defendant set fire to the house, knowing that his stepfather, who was disabled, was the only person in the house and would most likely not be able to escape unharmed.

 

On the current bank robbery charge, many eyewitness accounts detailed in law enforcement reports stated that the defendant walked into a bank, waited in line, and eventually gave the teller a note that said “money, money, money in the name of Jesus.” The teller placed several stacks of money on the counter. The defendant looked at the money, turned around, and left the bank without taking the money. Shortly after the attempted robbery, he was apprehended several blocks away by the local police. When the police interviewed him, the defendant was somewhat incoherent and rambled on about his being a king of an unnamed country and that he had been waiting for days for his “250 million dollars” to be “delivered” along with his “250 virgin wives.” The police described the defendant as having poor hygiene, dirty clothes, and that he appeared to be homeless. Following his arrest and detainment at the local jail, his schizophrenia diagnosis was confirmed and he was given antipsychotic medication. After a week on the medications, he was judged to be “improving.” He was then transferred to the facility where you work with the court-ordered referral questions of, 1) is the defendant mentally competent to stand trial, and 2) was the defendant responsible for his behavior at the time of the offense (was he sane).

 

When you talk with the defendant, he is cooperative and verbally fluent. He tells you he has a court-appointed attorney whose job is to make sure the defendant’s rights are protected. He acknowledges the prosecutor’s job is to “convict me.” He knows he’s been charged with bank robbery and, if convicted, he would likely receive a sentence of eight years incarceration. He knows the jury will decide if he is guilty or not, but that he may opt to have his case decided only by the judge. He knows the judge’s job is to be like a “referee,” because the judge makes sure both sets of attorneys “play by the rules.” He knows what a plea bargain is and tells you he has been offered a deal to serve seven years in prison in exchange for a plea of guilty, which means he would have to “admit I robbed the bank.” He is cooperative with the assessment and you have found him enjoyable to assess.

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Category: Sample Questions