Clinical Versus Forensic Neuropsychological Evaluations

A Clinical Neuropsychological Evaluation is a neuropsychological evaluation conducted for medical, psychological, educational, or other similar purposes and it should not be confused with a Forensic Neuropsychological Evaluation, which is conducted for legal purposes.

Clinical Neuropsychological Evaluations

A clinical neuropsychological evaluation might take place because a physician or therapist referred a child to Dr. Kaufman in order to learn more about the child's neurodevelopmental functioning, including whether or not the child has attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a specific learning disorder, or some other related condition. Alternatively, a neurologist or primary care physician might refer an older adult for a clinical neuropsychological evaluation to see if the examinee is suffering from a neurocognitive disorder like Alzheimer's dementia. These evaluations are billed to insurance companies.

Forensic Neuropsychological Evaluations

A forensic neuropsychological evaluation could take place after a criminal defense attorney finds out that her client—charged with bringing drugs across the U.S./Mexico border—suffered from uncontrolled epilepsy for the 20 years leading up to the offense, thereby diminishing this individual's capacity to intend to break laws (the mens rea or "guilty mind" does not exist in the way one might think). Alternatively, an attorney practicing within the arena of civil law might believe his client suffered emotional and cognitive damages after being driven off the road by a negligent driver, resulting in a traumatic brain injury (TBI) for the examinee. These evaluations are never billed to insurance companies, unless Dr. Kaufman is hired by the insurance company to address a legal question for the insurance company.

    Common Forensic Questions:

  • capacity to waive Miranda Rights (and validity of confessions)
  • competency to stand trial
  • competency to plead
  • competency to waive counsel
  • competency to testify
  • competency to be sentenced
  • treatment amenability vs. transfer from juvenile to criminal court
  • criminal responsibility (e.g., mental state at the time of the offense)
  • sentencing (e.g., mitigating factors)
  • risk for future offending
  • civil commitment due to mental illness and dangerousness
  • civil commitment due to sex offense recidivism following criminal sentence
  • competence to consent to treatment
  • guardianship and conservatorship
  • personal injury under tort laws
  • personal injury under workers' compensation laws
  • employment discrimination/harassment
  • testamentary capacity
  • fitness for duty
  • termination of parental rights
  • presence of Intellectual Disability