Psychology & The Law

What is Forensic Psychology?

Forensic psychology is the combination of law and psychology. It is the application of psychology within a wide range of legal contexts. These include: civil (non-criminal) matters such as child custody proceedings in divorce, guardianships, personal injury lawsuits, child requiring assistance (CRA), and involuntary civil commitments to psychiatric units; criminal matters such as competence to stand trial, criminal responsibility, or aids in sentencing; juvenile delinquency or youthful offender matters where youth are charged with crimes; and administrative law proceedings such as special education appeals or licensure complaints against professionals.

Why might you need a Forensic Psychologist?

One role of the forensic psychologist is to provide forensic evaluations to the court.  Forensic evaluations commonly address nonclinical issues as any clinical issues presented tend to serve as background information.  The client will often enter into a forensic evaluation as mandated by a judge or court and it is of optimal importance for the forensic psychologist to determine accuracy of the client’s report as findings will be submitted to a court of law.  Forensic evaluations tend to be less treatment oriented and occur over a shorter period of time due to time constraints set by the court or judge.

Attorneys have wide discretion to choose whom they wish for experts to assist them in a case. In certain kinds of civil or criminal cases, Massachusetts courts ordering evaluations must rely upon a Designated Forensic Psychologist (DFP) in District or Superior Court cases and Certified Juvenile Court Clinicians (CJCC) in Juvenile Court cases. Massachusetts requires a certification as a Designated Forensic Psychologist in order to serve in a public sector forensic mental health position.

Resource Organizations » Forensic Psychology » Wakefield

In Massachusetts

Children's Law Center of Massachusetts

1-888-KIDLAW8

Email: Info@CLCM.org

The mission of the Children's Law Center of Massachusetts is to promote and secure equal justice and to maximize opportunity for low-income children and youth by providing quality advocacy and legal services.

Children’s League of Massachusetts

(617) 695-1991

The Children's League of Massachusetts is a statewide non-profit association of over 80 private and public organizations and individuals that collectively advocate for public policies and quality services that are in the best interest of the Commonwealth's children, youth and families. It is through public education and advocacy that the Children's League promotes the availability, accessibility, and quality of these needed services.

Committee for Public Counsel

617-482-6212

The Massachusetts Committee for Public Counsel Services, a 15-member body appointed by the Governor, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the President of the Senate, and the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, oversees the provision of legal representation to indigent persons in criminal and civil cases and administrative proceedings in which there is a right to counsel. Most representation is provided by approximately 3,000 private attorneys trained and certified to accept appointments. Support for and supervision of these attorneys is provided by the Private Counsel Division (for criminal cases and related matters), the Children and Family Law Division (for child welfare cases), the Youth Advocacy Division (for delinquency, youthful offender, and GCL revocation cases), and the Mental Health Division (for guardianships and mental health/substance abuse commitments). Approximately 500 staff attorneys, working in offices located across Massachusetts, provide representation to clients in Superior, District, Juvenile, and Probate and Family Court cases and in appeals of those cases.

Department of Public Safety: Youth & Juvenile Firesetting

Website offers information on: programs, resources and safety tips.

Disability Law Center

(800) 872-9992

The Disability Law Center (DLC) is the Protection and Advocacy agency for Massachusetts.  DLC is a private, non-profit organization responsible for providing protection and advocacy for the rights of Massachusetts residents with disabilities. DLC receives federal, state and private funding but is not part of the state or federal government.

 

Forensic Services

Email: dmhinfo@massmail.state.ma.us

DMH Forensic Mental Health Services include court-based forensic mental health assessments and consultations for persons who are facing criminal or delinquency charges and civil commitment proceedings. These court-based services involve the provision of individual statutory and non-statutory evaluations regarding persons with mental health and substance abuse difficulties as well as mental health liaisons to adult and juvenile justice court personnel. Forensic Mental Health Services also encompasses DMH risk management activities.

DMH Forensic Service staff collaborate with other state agencies and providers regarding individuals who are involved in the criminal and juvenile justice systems. The Forensic Transition Team provides reentry services for DMH clients who are transitioning from prisons, jails and other places of detention to the community. Forensic Mental Health Services also oversees DMH-funded jail diversion activities and partners with other agencies on federally-funded projects aimed at minimizing the involvement of persons with mental health histories into the criminal justice system.

MASOC

(413) 540-0712

Email: info@masoc.net

MASOC is a coalition of professionals committed to stopping sexual abuse through early and specialized intervention, assessment, treatment and management in the lives of sexually abusive children and youth.

Mass Legal Services

MassLegalServices offers resources and information about legal issues facing lower income Massachusetts residents to legal services advocates and social services professionals. The mission of the Massachusetts Legal Aid Websites Project is to improve access to justice for low-income and disadvantaged persons in Massachusetts through innovative use of the web and other technologies. MassLegalHelp provides understandable, practical legal information about issues which affect low income people, including unemployment, housing, income and benefits, school, domestic violence, children and families, seniors, CORI, disability, health and mental health, and school. Information is available in many languages, including English, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian and Vietnamese. It includes a poverty law resource library available to the general public.

Massachusetts Advocates for Children

(617) 357-8431 ext. 3224

We provide help, through our helpline, for children who are facing barriers to receiving educational supports and services to which they are legally entitled. Our priorities are children with disabilities, homeless children, children who have been expelled or suspended from school, and children traumatized by exposure to family violence or other adverse experiences.

Massachusetts Court System

The Massachusetts Court System consists of the Supreme Judicial Court, the Appeals Court, the Executive Office of the Trial Court, the seven Trial Court departments, the Office of the Commissioner of Probation, and the Office of Jury Commissioner.  The content presented in  the self-help center is designed to help you find information on how the Massachusetts Court System operates and  how to find a lawyer and locate other services that might be available to you.

Parent/Professional Advocacy League (PPAL)

866-815-8122

Email: info@ppal.net

Parent/Professional Advocacy League (PPAL) is an organization that promotes a strong voice for families of children and adolescents with mental health needs. PPAL advocates for supports, treatment and policies that enable families to live in their communities in an environment of stability and respect.

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts Disabled Persons Protection Commission (DPPC)

617-727-6465 x 211

888-822-0350 V/TTY

The mission of the Disabled Persons Protection Commission (DPPC) is to protect adults with disabilities from the abusive acts or omissions of their caregivers through investigation, oversight, public awareness and prevention.The DPPC is an independent state agency and the jurisdiction of DPPC includes adults with disabilities between the ages of 18 and 59, who are within the Commonwealth whether in state care or in a private setting and who suffer serious physical and/or emotional injury through the act and/or omission of their caregivers. The DPPC fills the gap between the Department of Children and Families (DCF) (through the age of 17) and the Executive Office of Elder Affairs (EOEA) (age 60 and over).

The Mental Health Legal Advisors Committee

617-338-2345

1-800-342-9092

The Mental Health Legal Advisors Committee's attorneys and staff work in a multitude of areas to enhance and protect the rights of persons with mental illness in Massachusetts.

Youth Advocacy Division

617-482-6212

For 20 years the Youth Advocacy Project's (YAP) mission has been to help Boston's neediest children at some of the most challenging moments of their lives. In October 2009, the Youth Advocacy Project became the Youth Advocacy Division (YAD). With offices in Fall River, Hyannis, Lowell, Quincy, Roxbury, Salem, Somerville, Springfield and Worcester, YAD will lead, train, and support the entire Massachusetts juvenile defense bar. YAD's over arching purpose will be to improve legal and life outcomes for youth by building the skills and capacity of their advocates. YAD assists children in delinquency proceedings with effective representation in court, educational advocacy, psychological assessments, and individualized referrals to community resources. YAD's aim is to ensure that a clients' involvement with YAD becomes their last encounter with the criminal justice system by addressing their many life needs beyond simply their immediate legal needs. YAD is an important part of reducing crime and violence in children's lives and in communities.

Outside Massachusetts

Organizations with hotlines

National Runaway Safeline

1-800-786-2929

By calling 1-800-RUNAWAY or 1-800-786-2929, you will immediately share your story with a compassionate person and build a plan together. 

National Suicide Prevention Hotline

1-800-273-8255, 1-888-628-9454 (Spanish), 1-800-799-4889 (Deaf or Hard of Hearing)

If you’re thinking about suicide, are worried about a friend or loved one, or would like emotional support, the Lifeline network is available 24/7 across the United States. The Lifeline is available for everyone, is free and confidential.

RAINN

800.656.HOPE (4673)

RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) is the nation's largest anti-sexual violence organization. RAINN created and operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline (800.656.HOPE, online.rainn.org y rainn.org/es) in partnership with more than 1,000 local sexual assault service providers across the country and operates the DoD Safe Helpline for the Department of Defense. RAINN also carries out programs to prevent sexual violence, help victims, and ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice.

Your Life Your Voice from Boys Town

1-800-448-3000

The Boys Town National Hotline is a free hotline available to kids, teens and young adults at any time. Call, chat, text or email. Chat, text and email hours and information is available on website.  Call to talk if you're depressed, contemplating suicide, being physically or sexually abused, on the run, addicted, threatened by gang violence, fighting with a friend or parent, or if you are faced with an overwhelming challenge.

Organizations without hotlines

Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers

(503) 643-1023

Email: atsa@atsa.com

ATSA is an international, interdisciplinary, non-profit organization dedicated to making society safer by preventing sexual abuse. ATSA encourages sound research, effective practice, informed policy, and comprehensive prevention strategies, all designed to create safer communities.

Office for Victims of Crime

Established in 1988 through an amendment to the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) of 1984, OVC is charged by Congress with administering the Crime Victims Fund (the Fund). Through OVC, the Fund supports a broad array of programs and services that focus on helping victims in the immediate aftermath of crime and continuing to support them as they rebuild their lives. Millions of dollars are invested annually in victim compensation and assistance in every U.S. state and territory, as well as for training, technical assistance, and other capacity-building programs designed to enhance service providers’ ability to support victims of crime in communities across the Nation.