Author(s): Kacperska I, Heitzman J, Bk T, Leko AW, Opio M
Criminal responsibility evaluation is a very complex and controversial issue due to the gravity of its consequences. Polish legislation allows courts to request multiple sanity evaluations. The purpose of this study was to assess the extent of agreement on sanity evaluations in written evidence provided by experts of criminal cases in Poland. A total of 381 forensic evaluation reports addressing 117 criminal defendants were analysed. In sixty eight cases, there was more than one forensic evaluation report containing an assessment of legal sanity, including forty one cases containing two assessments of criminal responsibility, seventeen containing three assessments, eight containing four assessments and two containing five assessments. We found that in 47% of the cases containing more than one sanity assessment, the initial criminal responsibility assessment was changed after a subsequent forensic evaluation. The agreement between repeated criminal responsibility evaluations was found to be fair. This study found a strong correlation between the number of forensic reports and the number of contradictory sanity assessments. There were fewer forensic opinions involved in the cases in which the same conclusion regarding criminal responsibility was reached in subsequent forensic evaluation reports compared to the cases in which more forensic opinions were involved. There is a clear need for further research in this area, and it is necessary to standardise criminal responsibility evaluations in order to improve their reliability and to shorten the legal proceedings.