Forensic Services

FORENSIC SERVICES

Purpose
To codify the Mid-Ohio Psychological Services, Inc. policies concerning the delivery of Forensic Evaluation Services and establish the responsibilities of both clinical staff and support staff for the delivery of this service.

Policy
It is the policy of Mid-Ohio Psychological Services, Inc. to provide the highest quality, cost effective forensic assessment services available.  Forensic evaluation services are designed, through face-to-face contact and review of criminal case data, to address mental health legal issues such as: competency to stand trial, criminal responsibility (Insanity), post-NGRI, presentence, bound-over, predator mitigation of penalty, mitigation of death penalty, domestic violence, competence to be a witness, adult parole authority–parole revocation, domestic relations (custody and guardianship), and juvenile dependency (neglect and delinquency).  All forensic evaluations must be conducted under the order of a court or by official written request of the appropriate law enforcement agency.

This service is provided by qualified mental health practitioners (as defined by the Ohio Department of Mental Health code 5122-23-06–specifically, psychologists who have maintained adequate continuing education in forensic psychology) and supported by competent clerical staff, all of whom are sensitive to the needs of the consumer (including varied ethnic/cultural backgrounds, disabling condition, and social/physical environments that affect the person’s functioning).

It is the responsibility of the Executive Director, Associate Director, and the Operations Director, to oversee the delivery of forensic evaluation services.  The Executive Director is responsible for codifying the procedures for this service and for ensuring compliance by all staff with the established procedures, reporting any discrepancies to the appropriate staff personnel.

It is the responsibility of all clinical staff and support staff to provide immediate feedback to the Executive Director or Associate Director when any problems arise in the delivery of this service or when any areas for improvement are identified.

It is the responsibility of the Quality Assurance Committee to review the provision of this service through established procedures to ensure the thoroughness, appropriateness, and effectiveness of service delivery.

ProceduresAll admissions to the Mid-Ohio Psychological Services, Inc. must first enter through the intake process before initiating a forensic evaluation.  Forensic evaluations usually require between one and four sessions and must be completed within 30 days from the point of initial clinical contact with the client or a request for an extension must be filed with the referring court or agency.

Intake usually begins when a court issues an order for an evaluation which is either faxed or mailed to this agency.  Support staff are to complete an Initial Telephone Contact form and are to assign the client to a clinician for assessment according to established guidelines provided by the Executive Director.  Upon receipt of the court order, every effort will be made by the support staff to determine current location of the client (IE. Jail, address if on bond, etc.) and the existence of any special needs including assistance with language, physical challenges or other potential impediments to the completion of an assessment and every effort will be made to address these concerns at no cost to the client.

The receptionist will make arrangements for the individual to be seen by a counselor for the initial assessment session, setting the appointment with appropriate consideration to the person’s work schedule, place of residence, availability of transportation, and other valid circumstances when appropriate; however, it is necessary that, when possible, the assessment be conducted within seven working days of the initial contact.  The client is given/mailed an appointment card indicating the time, date, and day of the session, as well as the name of the counselor the client is scheduled to see.  The Receptionist  schedules the client in the scheduler for the time, date, and type of session (forensic evaluation).

When the clinician initially meets with the client, the nature of the evaluation procedure and the limits of confidentiality must be clearly discussed at a cognitive level consistent with client’s ability to comprehend. The client is also to be presented with a copy of the Forensic Client Rights Statement and must be presented with, and asked to sign, a copy or the Consent For Forensic Services form.  The clinician is then to proceed by gathering the material identified on the Forensic Evaluation form and administering any appropriate testing material that is clinically warranted.

Forensic evaluation services shall provide the following standards of confidentiality:

The relationship between the person being evaluated and the examiner is not confidential in the usual understanding of that term.  A written report shall be made to the court or adult parole authority, whether or not the person being evaluated cooperates with the examiner.  The relationship between the court or adult parole authority shall be explained orally and in writing to the person being evaluated.  It shall be clearly noted that the information gathered and expert opinions reached by the examiner shall be summarized in a written report and/or testimony to the court or adult parole authority or other referring agency.

Reports to the criminal courts shall be forwarded only to the court that referred the person or to other court officials, prosecution and defense attorneys, as designated by the referring court.  The court may, at its discretion, distribute the report, and bears the responsibility for that distribution.  Reports to the adult parole authority shall be forwarded only to that agency, which may, at its discretion, distribute the report, and bears the responsibility for that distribution.  Reports may be distributed to other parties only with the written authorization of the court or adult parole authority, or other referring agency.

Reports of forensic evaluations shall be stored separately from other types of client records, and shall be considered the property of the court that ordered them or the agency that referred the person.

Because of the nature of forensic evaluations, it is essential that collateral material be reviewed.  In most cases, the prosecutor’s office or referring agency will provide official versions of the allegations involved in the case.  The legal representative for the client should also be contacted to gather collateral material as well.  The client should be asked to sign a Release of Information form to gather pertinent collateral material.

Once the clinical interview(s) has been completed and collateral material reviewed, a written report is to be submitted to the court or referring agency.  The forensic evaluation shall be presented in non-technical terms and in reasonable detail–including all of the appropriate information from the Forensic Evaluation form.  The data and recommendations shall be pertinent to the legal question but should not state legal findings or legal dispositions.  Opinions in a forensic evaluation report shall not be based entirely on self-report of the person being evaluated.  Reports shall contain sufficient information to substantiate the conclusions and recommendations made.  Special caution shall be exercised with self-incriminating statements by the person being evaluated, information about others not being evaluated, or other material of a particularly sensitive, personal nature not related to the issue and for which the forensic evaluation was requested.

Forensic evaluation reports shall include at least the following:

The name and qualifications of the examiner(s)

The name of the court or agency that referred the person

The legal or referral question being assessed

Identifying information about the person being evaluated, including   relevant clinical, social, and criminal history

The duration and location of the interview(s) with the person being evaluated

A description of collateral information used to develop the report

Psychological and/or psychiatric data that address the legal or referral issue, if applicable

Opinions and recommendations

Forensic evaluations conducted in this agency will be done by a Psychologist, LISW, or LPCC only. Competency, sanity, bind-over and predator evaluations will only be conducted by a Psychologist.  All persons who perform forensic evaluations shall document at least 15 hours of training experiences annually at a local, state, or national level to upgrade professional skills.  At least eight of these hours shall be specific to the forensic mental health area.