Dec 04, 2023  
College Catalog 2023-2024 
College Catalog 2023-2024
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PSYC 2850 - Forensic Psychology

Credit Hours: 3.00

Prerequisites: PSYC 1010  

This course will explore the application of psychological research and practice in relation to the criminal justice and legal systems. Topics include antisocial personality, mental illness and crime, substance abuse and crime, victimology, types of offenders, sexual crimes, white-collar crime, eye-witness testimony, insanity defense and competency to stand trial, capital murder and the death penalty, jury selection, sentencing and police interrogation. The varying ways in which the criminal justice system processes, treats, and interacts with the different types of offenders will also be discussed.

Billable Contact Hours: 3

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Transfer Possibilities
Michigan Transfer Network (MiTransfer) - Utilize this website to easily search how your credits transfer to colleges and universities.
Outcome 1: Upon completion of this course, students will be able to evaluate the psychological aspects of crime.


  1. Demonstrate an understanding of psychological principles as they relate to the legal system.
  2. Evaluate the various roles that psychologists play in the criminal justice system.
  3. Explore the applications of psychology to various criminal justice and correctional issues.
  4. Identify the various types of crimes most commonly related to mental health issues.
  5. Explore the challenges individuals with mental health issues face in the criminal justice system.

Outcome 2: Upon completion of this course, students will be able to evaluate the legal aspects of crime.


  1. Compare and contrast the various types of crimes and their impact on society.
  2. Analyze important case law that has shaped the relationship between psychology and the legal system.
  3. Evaluate how the courts and the legal system influence the practice of psychology at both the individual and systemic level.
  4. Evaluate how the field of psychology influences the legal field at both the individual and public policy level.

Outcome 3: Upon completion of this course, students will be able to evaluate the various components of the legal system.


  1. Evaluate the investigation process, interrogation process, Miranda rights, and confessions.
  2. Analyze the effectiveness of punishment and rehabilitation models.
  3. Explore the treatment and needs of juvenile offenders.
  4. Describe the process of evaluating competency and insanity.
  5. Evaluate the options of those deemed incompetent or criminally insane.

  • Communication: The graduate can communicate effectively for the intended purpose and audience.
  • Critical Thinking: The graduate can make informed decisions after analyzing information or evidence related to the issue.
  • Global Literacy: The graduate can analyze human behavior or experiences through cultural, social, political, or economic perspectives.
  • Information Literacy: The graduate can responsibly use information gathered from a variety of formats in order to complete a task.
  • Quantitative Reasoning: The graduate can apply quantitative methods or evidence to solve problems or make judgments.
  • Scientific Literacy: The graduate can produce or interpret scientific information presented in a variety of formats.
CDO marked YES apply to this course:
Communication: YES
Critical Thinking: YES
Global Literacy: YES
Information Literacy: YES
Scientific Literacy: YES

Session and Topic:

  1. What Is Forensic Psychology?
    1. The origin of forensic psychology
    2. Major Areas of Forensic Psychology
    3. Structure of the legal system
    4. The Law and Psychology
    5. Conflict between psychology and law
    6. Careers in forensic psychology
  2. Psychology of crime
    1. Genetics and crime
    2. Neurotrasmitters and hormones and crime
    3. Brain development and crime
    4. Psychosocial theories of crime
  3. The Psychology of Police
    1. Police training and education
    2. Police selection
    3. Psychological assessment of police
    4. Role of police
    5. Police-community relations
    6. Police stress
  4. Forensic Assessment and Treatment
    1. Forensic assessment method and procedures
    2. Clinical, Actuarial, and Structured Risk Assessments
    3. Risk and Protective Factors
    4. Difficulties in risk assessment
    5. Types of treatment in Forensic settings
    6. Success of various treatment models
  5. Expert Testimony and the Role of an Expert
    1. History of the Expert Witness
    2. Admissibility of Expert Testimony
    3. Challenges to Expert Testimony
    4. Criticisms of Expert Testimony
  6. Psychology of Violence
    1. General violence and criminal behavior
    2. Sexual violence
    3. Domestic violence
    4. Special Groups (women, children adolescents, intellectually disabled)
    5. Psychopathy 
  7. Sexual Offenders
    1. What Is a Sexual Offender?
    2. Risk assessment and recidivism
    3. Treatment and Management of Sexual Offenders
    4. Juvenile sexual offenders
    5. Female sexual offenders
    6. Sexual Offender laws, registration and residency issues
  8. Criminal and Civil Competence
    1. Competency to Stand Trial
    2. Competency evaluations
    3. Restoration of Competence
  9. Insanity, Criminal Responsibility, and Diminished Capacity
    1. Insanity Defense‐historical and present views
    2. Historical cases related to insanity laws
    3. Guilty but mentally ill
    4. Evaluations of Insanity
    5. Criminal Responsibility and Diminished Capacity
  10. Juvenile Delinquency and Juvenile Justice
    1. History of the Juvenile Court
    2. Juvenile Delinquency and Juvenile Offenses
    3. Risk factors for juvenile delinquency
    4. Juveniles charged as adults
    5. Treatment for juvenile offenders
  11. Sentencing & Corrections
    1. Sentencing practices
    2. Sentencing disparities
    3. Types of outcomes
    4. Prison, jail and community corrections
    5. Recidivism 
  12. Psychology in the courtroom
    1. Jury selection
    2. Bench vs. Jury trial
    3. Role of judge and jury
    4. Eyewitness testimony
    5. Accuracy of memory
    6. Child witnesses

Primary Faculty
Groth, Karen
Secondary Faculty

Associate Dean
Williams-Chehmani, Angie
Pritchett, Marie

Primary Syllabus - Macomb Community College, 14500 E 12 Mile Road, Warren, MI 48088

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