The American legal system allows for psychology to play a role in hearings, trials, and verdicts. An individual’s mental health can impact the outcome of any given legal proceeding. Only those trained in providing forensic psychological services, with proven experience working within the criminal justice system are qualified to work within this highly specialized area. This office provides forensic psychological assessment and evaluation services in both Civil and Criminal venues.
The Importance of Forensic Psychology
Every court case is complex. Only a trained Forensic Psychologist with Master’s and Doctoral level, direct academic and clinical experience can competently perform objective forensic psychological evaluations. As a psychologist, who has trained in completing forensic assessments (i.e., competency, insanity, downward departure, guardianship, capacity evaluations, etc.,), I complete evaluations for Civil, Criminal, and Federal proceedings.
While both Court-ordered and attorney-referred cases are accepted, the ultimate decision to submit resulting report to the Court depends on the venue. As a licensed psychologist, the role is to be an objective voice – one that will not take sides – and use skills as a psychological evaluator to identify issues that relate to the Court case.
Forensic psychology has a variety of applications. Within the legal arena, services performed include:
- To evaluate competency to stand trial.
- To evaluate insanity defendant.
- To offer a downward departure (§5K1.1 motion) or mitigation review.
- To provide civil competency evaluations.
- To provide guardianship evaluations.
- To provide fitness for duty evaluations.
- To provide immigration examinations.
- To provide Military hearing supports.*
*Specialized services may also be used in government proceedings (i.e., Military Article 32 hearings, etc.,). Military Justice referrals will be considered on a case by case basis.
There are multiple layers of psycho-legal considerations in Court-related proceedings. As a result of the complexity of the forensic relationship, clients that are initially seen for non-Court-related reasons cannot later redefine services as “forensic services,” and services can only be requested by those with the legal authority to do so.
Nilsa Rivera, Ph.D. is a skilled psychologist in Naples, FL and surrounding areas that offers Forensic Neuropsychological services in both English and Spanish.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, please complete the appointment form or call the office at (239) 434-2425.