Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Psych experts & sex offenses

Earlier this month, the D.C. Circuit reminded us how important it is in sex cases to present expert mental-health testimony in support of any mental-state (lack of intent) defense.

In United States v. Laureys, the D.C. Circuit granted habeas relief to the defendant after finding that his lawyer was ineffective for failing to present expert testimony in support of his client's fantasy defense to enticement and travel charges.

Emphasizing the "pivotal role" that psychiatry has come to play in criminal proceedings, the Court held that trial counsel unreasonably failed to secure an expert for his client's defense (relying instead on his client's own "lurid" testimony about his "deviant sex fantasies").

The Court described the expert's potential testimony in some detail; this part of the opinion is crucial reading for anyone contemplating a fantasy defense to enticement or similar charges.

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