Evaluating the Impact of Clinical Evidence about FASD on Attributions and Decisions in a Criminal Justice Context

Thumbnail Image
Mullally, Katelyn
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
University of Guelph

Recent calls for legislative and policy reform to address the overrepresentation of individuals with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) in the criminal justice system are likely to increase the amount of FASD-related evidence in Canadian courtrooms. However, the potential impact of these changes for defendants with FASD is unknown. Thus, this study aimed to explore the impact of FASD-related evidence on case judgements in a criminal justice context. Undergraduate (n.=.235) and community participants (n.=.45) read about an adolescent defendant charged with second degree murder, in which the presence of an FASD diagnosis was manipulated; made legal decisions, and rated their perceptions and attributions of the defendant. Participants in the FASD condition rated the defendant as less blameworthy, less responsible, and less able to control his behaviour. Findings suggest that FASD may lead to more lenient case judgements in some cases, though compel additional research in this area.

Legal decisions, FASD, Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, Forensic psychology, Mock jury, Legal decision-making, Neurodevelopmental disorders