Sentencing for sex crimes could turn on biased evaluations

The role of a Minneapolis criminal defense lawyer is not always to clear someone’s name; sometimes the evidence of guilt is overwhelming and there is little a criminal defense lawyer can do to free his or her client. That does not mean, however, that a lawyer is useless, but rather the lawyer’s job is to ensure the trial is fair and the punishment is appropriate. For many criminal offenses, including sex crimes, a sentence may depend heavily on the evaluation of a mental health professional. In these cases, part of the lawyer’s job is to make sure that the evaluation is unbiased, because if it is not, the defendant could find him- or herself facing a long sentence in prison.

A disheartening study out of the journal Psychological Science, however, has found that forensic psychologists and psychiatrists are not always as unbiased as they should be. Four psychologists tested their counterparts by convincing them that they had been hired by either the prosecution or the defense to review a case of violent sexual assault and give their opinion on the defendant. Unfortunately, the results found psychologists assigned to the prosecution were all fairly consistent and those assigned to the defendant had much greater variation, indicating bias.

No offender in Minnesota should be subjected to an unjust prison sentence, no matter what the crime. Everyone should be fairly evaluated and a judge should have accurate and complete information about a case before issuing a sentence, which means that criminal defense lawyers’ jobs go beyond proving innocence and into protecting against bias.

Source: Popsci.com, “Researchers Expose Troubling Bias In Forensic Psychology,” Francie Diep, August 28, 2013

Max Keller has won countless jury trial cases involving misdemeanors and felonies, sex crimes, and DWI’s. He is a member of the Minnesota Society for Criminal Justice, which only allows the top 50 criminal defense attorneys in the state as members. Max is a frequent speaker at CLE’s and is often asked for advice by other defense attorneys across Minnesota.

Years of Experience: Approx. 20 years
Minnesota Registration Status: Active
Bar & Court Admissions: State of Minnesota Minnesota State Court Minnesota Federal Court 8th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals State of Maryland

What to Do If You Have Been Charged with a Criminal Offense

Confidential informants may provide integral information to help build criminal investigations, but how reliable is that information when they are receiving payment for their services? To protect them, state law requires the identity of informants be kept confidential. For those facing criminal charges, however, this creates challenges in questioning the accuracy and validity of the information given at trial.
Stay calm and compose after getting accused of a crime but not charged in Minneapolis, MN. Do not discuss the facts of your case with anyone, including your relatives and family members. Hire a criminal defense attorney with a demonstrated record of winning cases like yours. Your attorney will discuss your rights, guide you on how to cooperate with law enforcement within the legal boundaries, and build a solid defense strategy to fight the charges you could face in the future.
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