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Forensic psychology careers have a mixture of components to them including criminal justice and psychology. There are also numerous careers that pertain to different specialties including victim advocacy, family law, and criminal law with victim advocacy and criminal law being the two, top specialties. In order to begin working in these top careers, you must first go through extensive education which should start out with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and ending with a Ph.D. in Philosophy or Psychology. From start to finish the educational path should take about ten years to complete; however, when you go through some of the top, accredited, online universities, this time can be reduced greatly with the use of the accelerated programs available for the top students. Once you begin working in any one of the forensic psychology careers, you can expect your salary to start out at about $100,000 per year with this figure doubling throughout your career.
The element of victim advocacy in the forensic psychology careers pertains to what the crime has done to the victim and how the actions of the criminal have affected the one that they violated with their crime. Through this career the forensic psychologist will interview the victim and provide him or her with ways to cope with his or her current mental status due to the crime. The forensic psychologist who works in this specialty program has been well trained and educated to provide the victim with the tools they can use every day to cope with the crime that was committed against them; helping them to get back to the mental state they had before the crime was committed. After the initial diagnosis has been completed and some counseling has taken place, the forensic psychologist will typically then be required to attend various courtroom proceedings that pertain to the crime that was committed against the victim. Throughout these proceedings, the psychologist will help the victim with their newly found coping tools and possibly even testify as an expert witness to the extent of the damage to the victim’s mental state. This type of testimony will often help determine the proper sentencing for the crime that was committed.
Another form of victim advocacy in the forensic science field is that of family services. In this position, the forensic psychologist will be responsible for interviewing all parties involved with various child custody cases as well as Child Protective Services cases. The forensic psychologist will interview the parents and the children in an effort to determine which placement would be in the best interests of the child and whether abuse has taken place or if there is a risk of future abuse. The forensic psychologist will then take his findings into court and share them with the judge on the case who will then take that information into consideration when determining the final custody arrangement.
Forensic Psychology Careers in Criminal Law
Frequently, people see in the news that a person has committed a violent act and then states they are mentally insane. The question is how the court determines if the criminal was or is criminally insane or competent to stand trial. This is where the forensic psychology careers in criminal law come into play. The forensic psychologist will interview the accused party and thoroughly examine them to determine their past and present state of mind. They are specially trained to notice if anyone is trying to pull one over on the law and get away with the crime they committed by stating that they were insane at the time of the crime.
Expert testimony is a large part of this type of career in forensic psychology since the bulk of the work is done in the court system. When an accused party states to the judge that they were insane at the time of the crime, the judge will order the forensic psychologist to examine that person. The forensic psychologist will then examine the accused and report all of the findings to the court along with a recommendation whether the insanity plea is appropriate in that case. As the case moves along, the forensic psychologist will also meet periodically with the accused to determine their present state of mind including the element of remorse. Through these meetings, the forensic psychologist will be able to successfully determine the type and length of sentence that would be appropriate based on the prior and current state of mind of the defendant. For example, if a murderer is found to be mentally insane but they begin to show remorse for their crimes, the forensic psychologist may recommend that they are placed in a mental health facility instead of jail. On the other hand, if the forensic psychologist feels that the accused was not mentally insane and shows no signs of remorse, they will most likely recommend the highest possible sentence based on the crime.
Forensic psychology careers are prominent throughout the criminal justice field where the educated psychologist is able to successfully determine what happens to a person’s mind throughout the commission of a crime as well as if the person was, in fact, mentally insane at the time of the crime. Those who enjoy working in the criminal justice field but also enjoy providing counseling and help to those who require various types of mental help for the crimes they committed or the crimes committed against them should focus their future education on attaining this career.