The Law Office of Robert D. Anderson, PLLCFormer Chief Prosecutor Of Loudoun County
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Questioning psychological tests could help with criminal defense

When a person is arrested in Virginia and needs a criminal defense, it is important to think about how that defense can be presented based on the prosecution's case. This is true whether it is a misdemeanor or a felony. One aspect of a court case that could be called into question is psychology tests.

A growing concern in criminal cases is that courts are failing to adequately screen psychological tests. They could be unreliable. Evidence that is not viable may be presented as evidence and result in people being wrongly convicted. In the study, 876 cases were examined from the years 2016 to 2018. Researchers assessed various psychological tests that had been used in court proceedings. One-third were not subjected to review in well-regarded manuals. Only 40% that were analyzed received a positive result. Almost 25% were categorized as unreliable.

Failing to weed out 'junk" science creates a significant disparity as to the value of psychological evidence. Still, fewer than 3% of these tests were subjected to a legal challenge. Since so many people are convicted based on the tests, this information might be valuable when crafting a defense. Prior studies have also questioned the validity of psychological tests. One from 2009 criticized the science, saying it led to wrongful convictions for people who were innocent. Attempts at reform have yielded inconsistent results.

Judges and attorneys are not sufficiently trained to fully understand these tests. They must then trust psychologists regarding the evidence they are presenting. Flawed tests can lead to flawed results. People facing criminal charges should have a comprehensive defense and sound legal advice. A law firm with experience in criminal defense may be able to help in questioning psychological evidence and other aspects of the case to achieve a positive result.

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