Ethical Issues during Forensic Assessments

Ethical Issues during Forensic Assessments Free Essay

There are various ethical issues that emerge from the scenario. Firstly, there is an issue of sexual abuse. According to the scenario, Mr. Doe admitted to sexually offending two adult females. He also reported sexually offending his three-year-old daughter. These are cases of sexual abuse or violence that Mr. Doe committed against the mentioned ladies (American Psychology-Law Society, 2011). In this case, it is worth noting that Mr. Doe’s actions are highly unethical since they consist of taking advantage of the females due to his great masculinity as a man. The females could not offer defense against him because he is man. On this note, it is possible to note that the issue of gender violence also arises in the scenario. In this case, Mr. Doe uses his physical prowess to forcefully engage in illicit sex with the two female adults, as well as his daughter. As a result, this amounts to gender violence where one sex uses particular strength with the aim of achieving their goals. The next unethical issue in the scenario is adultery. Mr. Doe admits that he continually had an affair with his female coworker who would send him money regularly. Arguably, adultery is an unethical practice that defies the sanctity of marriage. Anger also appears as another unethical issue in the scenario. Mr. Doe seems to be an angry man (American Psychology-Law Society, 2011). He notes that he cannot understand why the lady with whom he had an affair stopped sending him money and visiting him at the prison facility. Anger is an example of negative emotion that can make someone commit unethical acts such as murder. In this case, he notes that he would kill her if they met.

APA Ethical Code(s) and the Specialty Guidelines that May Apply to The Scenario

The first ethical code is integrity. It is clear from the scenario that the code integrity appears extensively in the encounter between the prisoner, his attorney, and the doctor. Mr. Doe exhibits a great degree of integrity by making several admissions of his conduct as a sex and juvenile offender (American Psychological Association, 2010). On this note, it is clear that he expressed a high level of honesty that contributes to his high level of integrity. He told the truth. When being faced with questions about his actions, he admitted to his misconduct. His integrity is also visible when he says that he would be willing to kill his former lover because she abandoned him while in prison. Arguably, Mr. Doe is honest about his feelings and is willing to share them with the forensic evaluator without caring about the consequences.

The second ethical code concerns fidelity and responsibility. According to the scenario given, it appears that Dr. Smith exhibits a high level of fidelity and responsibility (American Psychological Association, 2010). He is faithful to perform forensic evaluation at the prison when requested by the District Attorney. Similarly, his level of fidelity and responsibility is also visible when Mr. Doe’s attorney asks to be present in the evaluation hearing. In this case, he does not oppose the request and demonstrates his full trust in the law professional. Additionally, fidelity and responsibility also feature in the case of Mr. Doe’s relationship with his attorney. It appears that his high level of honesty resulted from his talk with and advice from his lawyer. Their relationship demonstrates a great level of responsibility and fidelity because they trust one another.

The third ethical code exhibited in the scenario is justice. According to the scenario, the principle of fairness and justice is demonstrated when Mr. Doe is granted a hearing despite the crimes he committed. Notably, this ethical code applies to Mr. Doe when the justice system does not discriminate against him due to his previous criminal past.

Limits of Confidentiality and How Those Limits Can Be Affected by Information in the Scenario

There are limits of confidentiality demonstrated in the scenario. In this case, the limit to confidentiality occurs between Dr. Smith and Mr. Doe. According to Kalmbach and Lyons (2006), the doctor is prohibited from releasing information to any source apart from the established authority that will use the information to determine Mr. Doe’s case. However, it is clear that that those limits may be affected by the decision of the panel handling his case to decline his release based on the threats he issued against his former lover. At this point, confidentiality of the confession to the forensic doctor would be broken since the threats could amount to another hearing where the confidential details of the forensic investigation have to be revealed (Kalmbach & Lyons, 2006). There is also a limit to confidentiality between Mr. Doe and his attorney. On this note, Mr. Doe confides in the attorney. The attorney-client privilege promotes confidentiality between the two parties. However, confidentiality between the attorney and the client may be limited by the threats issued by Mr. Doe during his hearing. It is clear that the statements made by Mr. Doe may lead to a different outcome of the criminal hearing. Therefore, appeal cases may result in the confidential confessions being made public as a matter of provision of evidence that would be used in the determination of the case outcome.

Circumstances in the Case Study in which There Might Be a Duty to Report or Duty to Warn

There is a specific circumstance in the case study that shows a duty to report. The first instance concerns Dr. Smith. As a witness and forensic evaluator, Dr. Smith has the duty to report to the justice department about the psychological condition of Mr. Doe (Kalmbach & Lyons, 2006). It is his duty to analyze and give proper reports that will the justice system to determine the fate of Mr. Doe. In this regard, it is clear that he is entrusted by the District Attorney to provide an accurate evaluation of Mr. Doe that will help to determine whether he is fit to go back to the society. In this regard, he has a duty to report the findings to the justice department. However, there is also a specific circumstance in the study that might be a duty to warn. Analytically, this involves Mr. Doe’s lover who stopped visiting him while he was in prison. The doctor has a duty to warn the lady about danger and threat to her life by Mr. Doe (Kalmbach & Lyons, 2006). His responsibility as a forensic evaluator involves not only protecting the rights of the patient, but also those whose lives are at risk because of the patient. In this case, it would be important for Dr. Smith to perform a duty to warn the lady to be careful in case Mr. Doe returns to the society.

Limitations of What the Evaluator Can and Cannot Say

There are limitations to what Mr. Smith, the evaluator, can and cannot say. It is important to note that the evaluator has no permission to expose the information to any other party after the evaluation process. In this case, Dr. Smith cannot pass information regarding the report of Mr. Doe unless requested by the legal authorities for purposes of duty to warn or protect the patient and individuals at risk by him. However, it should be noted that there are instances when the evaluator can reserve the right to expose the confidential information (Kalmbach & Lyons, 2006). Notably, this can happen if Mr. Doe promises to engage in another criminal act upon leaving prison. In this case, the chances of Mr. Smith breaking silence are high since Mr. Doe had issued a threat to commit murder against his former lover. On this note, Mr. Smith is legally allowed to break his silence due to the duty to warn privilege and responsibility. He could also break confidentiality of the evaluation report if Mr. Doe threatened to sexually assault the daughter again. The duty to warn will also apply in this case. However, as it stands, Mr. Doe did not issue any threats to his daughter or wife. As a result, Dr. Smith cannot break confidentiality of the report on such basis.

Implications of the Third-party Observer to the Overall Evaluation

The third party observer to the overall evaluation may present several implications. Firstly, the presence of a third-party observer can affect accuracy of the report since the observer may make the patient become anxious during the evaluation process (Horwitz & McCaffrey, 2008). Consequently, it is clear that this may affect the provision of answers to the questions submitted. Notably, this can happen if the third-party observer is a relative to the offender. Secondly, the observer may make the offender perform dismally, thus leading to inaccurate test scores during the evaluation because of the loss of memory. There is a likelihood that the offender may lose memory, especially if the observer is someone they respect. Such situations may lead to memory loss, hence leading to poor results of the evaluation. Therefore, third party observers should not be allowed during the evaluation.


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