The expert witness in the Criminal Court: assessment, reports, and testimony

John O’Grady

in New Oxford Textbook of Psychiatry

Second edition

Published on behalf of Oxford University Press

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780199696758
Published online October 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191743221 | DOI:
The expert witness in the Criminal Court: assessment, reports, and testimony

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As an expert witness in the Criminal Court, the psychiatrist ceases to be simply a doctor as a psychiatrist's report and testimony addresses issues on the boundary between law and psychiatry. The law is not primarily concerned with the welfare of the defendant. Criminal law is concerned with justice, fact finding, and the attribution of guilt whilst psychiatry concerns itself with the welfare of the individual, their mental disorder, and its treatment. This chapter will explore the legal framework for expert reports and testimony, standards for such work, the particular ethical dilemmas of this work and provide practical guidance on preparation of reports and testimony. This chapter draws upon previously published work by the author. Expert evidence cannot be understood except in reference to a particular legal jurisdiction. For this chapter the legal system in the United Kingdom is chosen but the general principles will apply to all jurisdictions. Issues specific to Civil and Family courts will not be discussed.

Chapter.  5260 words. 

Subjects: Psychiatry

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