Maricopa Community Colleges  PSY267   20066-99999 

Official Course Description: MCCCD Approval: 04/25/06

PSY267  20066-99999


3 Credit(s)

3 Period(s)

Introduction to Forensic Psychology

Overview of the practice of psychology in the law, by the law, and of the law. Focuses on the complementary functions and distinctions between psychology and the legal justice system. Topics include, but are not limited to, criminal investigations, risk and level of danger, competency, interrogations, confessions, assessment, eyewitness testimony, child custody, and domestic violence. Prerequisites: PSY101.


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MCCCD Official Course Competencies:



PSY267   20066-99999

Introduction to Forensic Psychology



Describe the historical roots and define forensic psychology. (I, II, III)


Explain the legal, ethical, and moral obligations and considerations of the forensic psychologist. (I, II, III)


Compare and contrast differences between psychology and the law. (I)


Delineate the roles and responsibilities of the forensic psychologist. (II)


Describe the differences in how evidence is viewed in psychology and the law. (I, II, III)


Identify the purpose and describe the reliability and validity characteristics of the major assessment tools used in forensic psychology. (III)


Define the terms and describe the issues underlying determination of level of danger and risk. (II, III)


Compare and contrast the differing roles of the forensic psychologist within the trial process. (II)


Describe the psychologist's role in defining and assessing competency, insanity, and malingering. (I, II, III)


Define the terms and describe the concepts underlying techniques of criminal investigation. (II)


Delineate psychological services provided to law enforcement agencies. (II, III)


Describe the evaluation of eyewitness testimony in adults and children. (I, II, III)


Compare and contrast the psychologist's role in child custody determinations. (I, II, III)


Analyze and explain the psychologist's role in improving eyewitness identification procedures. (II)


Analyze and explain the factors that influence behavior during interrogations and confessions. (I, II)



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MCCCD Official Course Outline:



PSY267   20066-99999

Introduction to Forensic Psychology



I. Historical roots and defining forensic psychology

A. Historical roots:

1. Greeks to the 19th century

2. A developing field: end of 19th century to 1970's

3. A rapidly expanding field: late 1970's to present

B. Defining forensic psychology

1. Practicing psychology in legal settings

2. Law's impact on psychology

3. Research on legal issues

C. Differences between psychology and the Law

1. Causation of behavior: deterministic v. free will

2. Courtroom behavior: limited v. broad

3. Nature of law: descriptive v. prescriptive

4. Knowledge: empirical v. rational

5. Methods: experimental v. case study

6. Principles: exploratory v. conservative

7. Criterion: conservative v. vacillates (50-90%)

8. Values: objectivity v. advocacy

D. Ethical Obligations

1. Ethical codes & why they are necessary

2. Ethical codes purpose or function

3. What the American Psychological Association (APA) Guidelines suggest

II. Overview of Roles and Responsibilities

A. Researcher

1. Selection, training, and evaluation of police personnel

2. Criminal profiling

3. Hypnosis

4. Polygraphs

5. Jury selection

6. Eyewitness testimony

7. Discrimination & Sexual Harassment

8. Interrogation & confessions

9. Death penalty trials & appeals

10. Syndrome evidence

11. Childhood issues: competency, custody, & abuse

B. Trial Consultant

1. Jury selection

2. Case preparation

3. Pretrial publicity

4. Measurement of bias

C. Forensic Evaluator

1. Civil proceedings

a. Competency issues

b. Commitment issues

c. Legal & ethical issues

2. Criminal proceeding

a. Insanity defense(s)

b. Competency issues

c. Commitment issues

D. Consultant to Law Enforcement

1. Historical underpinnings

2. Selection of police personnel

3. Wellness training

4. Fitness-for-duty evaluations

E. Expert Witness

1. Frye and Daubert Standards

2. Civil proceedings

3. Criminal proceedings

F. Policy Shaper

1. Using research to influence legislation

2. Amicus briefs

3. Brandeis briefs

4. Effectiveness of the APA

III. Assessment in Forensic Psychology

A. Civil Actions

1. Instruments for domestic issues (child custody)

2. Personality assessment and personal injury & malingering

3. Instruments to determine competency

4. Evaluation of educational disabilities

5. Evaluation of fitness-for-duty

6. Selection of police personnel

B. Criminal Proceedings

1. Instruments for assessing Level of Danger & Risk

a. For sentencing, parole, & reoffending

b. For domestic violence & child abuse

c. For sexual offending

d. For prediction of suicide

e. For criminal responsibility

f. For evaluating specific intent

g. For assessing diminished capacity

2. Assessing Syndrome Evidence

a. Battered Woman

b. Rape Trauma

3. Assessing Competency

a. To stand trial

b. To plead guilty

c. Of juveniles

4. Evaluating Eyewitness Testimony

a. Adults

b. Children


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