Forensic Psychologists are often called into criminal court for a variety of reasons. Two of the most common reasons include questions of adjudicative competence (fitness to stand trial) and criminal responsibility (insanity). Prosecutors and defense attorneys often request forensic evaluations in criminal cases in order to help determine such factors as 1) whether the defendant has a legitimate and relevant mental health diagnosis, 2) whether the defendant is exacerbating or feigning mental health symptoms, and 3) whether and how the mental health symptoms relate to a legal question before the court.
When conducting evaluations in criminal cases Dr. Giacomoni often examines the defendant’s personal and mental health history in order to obtain an overall understanding of the defendant’s psychological dynamics and functioning. He then examines the prevalent mental health symptoms at the time of the alleged offense, and analyzes whether those symptoms were directly and sufficiently relevant to the legal matter in question. When psychological factors are not relevant or contributory to the legal matter, Dr. Giacomoni clearly explains why.
Dr. Giacomoni has a particular interest and specialization in analyzing how past traumatic experiences are relevant to criminal charges and criminal responsibility. He has experience examining how factors such as flashbacks, dissociations, and threat sensitization can affect a person’s ability to know the nature of the act or the wrongfulness of his or her actions. Dr. Giacomoni has applied these factors in his analysis of cases involving such allegations as: filing a false police report, assaulting security personnel, assaulting correctional officers, shooting at residential intruders, threatening a fellow motorist, residential arson, aiding and abetting murder, and felon in possession of a firearm.