Often times, forensic psychologists come up as an expert witness in a court case. I foresee two conflicts within this role: level of expertise and reliability and the way they obtain and provide evidence to the court. The forensic psychologist has to abide by specific rules in order to testify as an expert, particularly that the expert is a specialist in the area and recognized as well. In this case, guideline of Competence in the Specialty Guidelines for Forensic Psychology applies to this dilemma. Within the Competence guideline, there are three sub guidelines that most accurately apply:
2.01 Scope of Competence
When the forensic psychologist is determining one’s competence to provide services in the a certain case, they should consider several factors: the complexity of the service, relevant training and expertise, the preparation they are going to be able to devote to the case, and chance for consultation with another expert in the field (APA, 2014). This guideline one possible solution to the level of expertise and validity dilemma.
2.03 Representing Competencies
Forensic practitioners satisfactorily inform attorneys, courts and client about pertinent aspects of their experience, training, certificates, and qualifications and how they were achieved (APA, 2014). Experts should prove to all recipients that they are qualified to give a reliable testimony.
2.05 Knowledge of the Scientific Foundation for Opinions and Testimony
Forensic psychologists strive to provide views and testimony that are based on suitable scientific groundwork, and dependable and valid principles and methods that have been applied properly to the facts of the case (APA, 2014). This guideline address the importance of grounding opinions on reliable data. The expert should always use reliable and valid research to provide an unbiased testimony. Personal opinions should not be sufficient to base a judgment on a client.
The forensic psychologist is also required to follow the Specialty Guidelines for Forensic Psychology in terms of the ethics of providing evidence that was gained by speaking to the offender inside a court setting. In this case, guideline of Professional and other public communications in the Specialty Guidelines for Forensic Psychology applies to this dilemma. Within this guideline, there is one sub guideline that most accurately apply:
11.01 Accuracy, Fairness, and Avoidance of Deception
Forensic psychologists attempt to ensure their professional statements and testimony, are expressed in ways that promote understanding and evade deception. When delivering reports and other sworn statements or testimony in any form, forensic practitioners make every effort to present their conclusions, evidence and opinions, in a unbiased manner. Forensic practitioners do not, by either commission or omission, participate in distortion of their evidence, nor do they participate in biased attempts to avoid, deny or undermine the presentation of evidence dissimilar to their own position (APA, 2014).
In addition, the Informed consent, notification and assent sub guideline applies to the acquiring of evidence: