Most crimes stem from the desire for material gain. However, the causes of crime range from biological, social, psychological, and economic factors. Some people consider crime to be their daily job and believe that it has greater rewards and excitement than an honest day’s work.
But what if we could understand and perhaps predict how criminals think and act? We could work towards preventing crime and the steep cost it has on our society.
Well, this is what criminal psychology does – focusing on the behaviors and intentions of criminals.
Recently, there has been an increased interest in this career field, thanks to popular TV shows that depict fictional criminal psychologists. Intrigued? Let’s delve further into criminal psychology and its importance. But first, let’s start with the basics.
What is criminal psychology?
Criminal psychology is the study of the actions, thoughts, intentions, or reactions of a criminal. It exclusively deals with criminals, helping to identify the reasons why they commit crimes, predicting when and where a criminal will strike next, and how we can prevent crimes before they happen.
While the scenes might not be exactly like what you see on TV, the realities and goals are similar. The study is often conducted by criminal psychologists in various environments.
What is the importance of criminal psychology?
Criminal psychologists create a psychological profile to help law enforcement agencies apprehend suspects.
Criminal profiling helps investigative agencies narrow suspect pools, provide relevant leads, and identify linked crimes. It also allows law enforcement to come up with new investigative strategies to apprehend criminals.
Criminal profiling is often effective in cases involving rapists, arsonists, hostage-takers,, serial killers, and sexual predators.
However, criminal profiling doesn’t point to the exact individual who commits a crime. Instead, it gives a general overview of the suspect.
Also, there’s no scientific proof that supports the validity and reliability of criminal profiling. This is why it’s not widely accepted in the legal and psychological community.
Provides expert witness
A criminal psychologist can be called upon as an expert witness in courts. They serve as consultants in courts and work in various capacities. Criminal psychologists work in the civil, family, military, and criminal courts.
Criminal psychologists help the courts to create a picture of what happened.
What is the work of a criminal psychologist?
There are various activities linked to criminal psychology. Here are some of the duties of a criminal psychologist.
Some criminals engage in unlawful behaviors due to poor mental health. This is why many courts will order a person, especially if involved in rape, murder, or other heinous crimes, to undergo a mental health analysis before trial.
A criminal psychologist performs psychological testing to determine a victim’s/suspect psychological health. Ideally, the courts can only charge a criminal in a stable mental state.
A psychological assessment may involve gauging the intelligence level, strength, aptitude, and personality. This helps discover biological, social, and environmental factors that may have contributed to a suspect committing a particular crime.
A criminal psychologist may provide psychotherapy for those who’ve committed crimes. They work with suspects to assist them to deal with the consequences of their criminal behaviors, and hopefully, set them on the path to rehabilitation.
Criminal psychologists may also work with victims of crime to assist them through the trauma.
Some specific cases require intensive research about the victim, criminal, or eyewitness. A criminal psychologist may perform in-depth research on memory, evidence collection, confessions, and eyewitness testimony. This guides lawyers and law enforcement professionals on a particular case.
Final thoughts on the importance of criminal psychology
Criminal psychology is an important aspect of the legal system. It provides a better understanding of the thoughts, actions, reactions, and intentions of criminals. The reality of criminal psychology is almost the same as depicted on popular TV shows.
Experienced criminal lawyers often work with criminal psychologists to provide expert testimony in courts. They also conduct assessments for criminals who’ve performed various particular crimes like rape. Lastly, a criminal psychologist offers psychotherapy, helping criminals transition back to society.