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Judicial Assessment of a Psychiatric Opinion

Krzysztof Eichstaedt, Marlena Zajączkowska

(2nd Criminal Division, Court of Appeal of Łódź, Łódź, Poland)

Med Sci Tech 2014; 55:48-51

DOI: 10.12659/MST.891299


Abstract: Forensic psychiatric opinion constitutes the basis for the judicial assessment of the sanity of a suspect (the accused). The aim of this work was to summarize and discuss the rules of judicial assessments of a psychiatric opinion in the light of Polish law.
A statement of insanity may exclude criminal responsibility of the perpetrator of the prohibited act and in consequence lead to a detention order. A statement of diminished capacity may lead to an extraordinary mitigation of punishment. If there are reasonable doubts about the soundness of mind of the suspect or accused, forensic psychiatric opinion is required. Psychiatrists are the most often appointed experts and psychiatric assessments represent the largest percentage of opinions in criminal cases. Judicial authorities evaluate all relevant evidence, including expert evidence, which are provided in the criminal proceedings on the grounds of the principle of unfettered consideration of evidence. Forensic opinions are controlled by expert hearing and confrontation, which helps the judicial authority to explain possible inaccuracies, ambiguities, or contradictions. Correct judicial evaluation of a psychiatric opinion enables the application of the principle of material truth, and consequently contributes to the proper factual findings.

Keywords: Expert Testimony, Forensic Psychiatry, Insanity Defense, Judicial Role

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