Tova Bennet

Acquitted after forensic psychiatric evaluation

Every year, ca. 500 criminal suspects undergo a forensic psychiatric evaluation (FPE). About half of them are sentenced to inpatient psychiatric care while the remaining persons receive other sanctions. However, FPE is carried out before courts make final decisions on cases and it happens that persons are acquitted after undergoing FPE. For instance, if someone was unable to understand the consequences of their actions as a result of mental illness. It is currently unknown how often persons who underwent FPE are acquitted.
This research project (1) maps the occurrence of acquittals after FPE in criminal cases, (2) ascertains the basis for acquittals and (3) determines which importance courts attach to psychiatric information. Acquittals after FPE are an urgent legal, forensic and policy issue. Failing to allow for acquittals undermines legal certainty and can be discriminatory. However, the fact that FPEs can be followed by acquittals also raises questions among the practitioners performing FPE regarding the risk that courts interpret psychiatric information in a way that is not intended and/or in a way that prejudicially affects the outcome of the cases.
In this project, legal researchers collaborate with practitioners in forensic psychiatry with the aim of filling a knowledge gap that is both theoretical and practical and that has significance for the legal security of people with mental illness/disability.
Grant administrator
Reference number
SEK 851,188.00
RJ Flexit
Law (excluding Law and Society)