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Int J Law Psychiatry. 2014 Mar-Apr;37(2):149-54. doi: 10.1016/j.ijlp.2013.11.012. Epub 2013 Nov 20.

Forensic psychiatric expert witnessing within the criminal justice system in Germany.

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Institute of Forensic Psychiatry, Charité - University Medicine Berlin, Oranienburgerstr. 285, 13437 Berlin, Germany. Electronic address:
Section of Forensic Mental Health, Division of Psychiatry, University of Nottingham, United Kingdom.


In recent years, the number of occupied beds in German forensic-psychiatric hospitals has continued to rise. Diversion refers to the removal of offenders from the criminal justice system at any stage of the procedure and court proceedings. There are no specific diversion programs in Germany but diversion does in fact happen via legal regulations that are based on the construct of legal responsibility. The assessments of responsibility as well as risk are the core tasks of forensic-psychiatric expert witnessing in Germany. Recommendations of an interdisciplinary working group serve as a guide to operationalize this forensic-psychiatric task. These recommendations list formal minimum requirements for expert reports on the question of criminal responsibility and risk assessment as well as minimum standards regarding content and in writing the report.


Criminal responsibility; Expert witness; Risk assessment

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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