Different offenses are usually characterized by different characteristics. These are traits that have been found in most of the investigations of the crimes. In this essay the crimes discussed include sexual assault, murder, terrorism, acquisitive crime and organized crime. It also explains the ethical considerations for psychological interviewers and criminal investigators, the collateral information needed in investigations and offers recommendations to the criminal investigation process.
Sexual assault is a type of crime that involves forced sex or non-consensual sex. Sex assault differs from sexual harassment since sexual harassment doesn’t necessary involve having of sex that is, it involves things like inappropriate touching or inappropriate sexual comments. Also, sexual harassment and assault also involve inappropriate or non-consensual sexual events from same-sex people and not only opposite sex people. The offense characteristics of sexual assault include; acts of domination, manipulation, control, vulgar or abusive language and scripting. Scripting is when the perpetrator coerces the victim into saying certain things he wants to hear. For example, he or she may ask the victim if they enjoyed the sexual experience while expecting a certain answer.
Sexual offenders tend to use vulgar or abusive language when perpetuating the sexual assault. The use of abusive language may serve the purpose of making them feel in control. Another characteristic is acts of domination. One of the major drives for perpetrators of sexual assault is their need to exercise domination over their subject. Some individuals derive sexual pleasure from the feeling of power. For example, Hitler derived sexual pleasure from exercising power over the people, he sometimes had orgasms when giving his speeches. Sexual offenders will manipulate their victims.
Terrorism is usually carefully preplanned and is staged to cause a lot of damage especially to nations or specific ethnic groups or governments. Acts of terrorism usually lead to huge losses of life, and material wealth and large numbers of casualties. Motivations for committing acts of terrorism range from misguided religious beliefs to just hatred between parties. An example of an act of terrorism is the 9/11 attacks.
One of the offense characteristics of terrorism is large numbers of casualties. Acts of terrorism are usually planned to cause a big effect and hence involve injuring a large number of people (Kamm, 2008). Whenever acts of terrorism happen, there are always a large number of casualties. Another offense characteristic is the loss. Loss of lives, livelihoods, material possessions among others. Terrorism acts cause massive losses unless they are stopped before they happen. The lack of humanness is another characteristic. Perpetrators of terrorist activities may also have psychological defects such as schizophrenia or paranoia that distort their thinking leading them to think irrationally and have distorted perceptions and behaviors.
Organized crime is a type of crime that has existed in the society and is a multi-billion dollar type of crime. It includes large drug or arms importation activities. For example the infamous Pablo Escobar drug trade. It is a non-ideological business hierarchically organized and involving people who interact closely socially. Its main purpose is to get profit and acquire power using illegal and legal means. Organized crime has, at least, three levels. The offense characteristics for organized crime are; corruption, smuggling, racketeering, fraud, and intimidation. Corruption is common in all forms of organized crime. Since organized crime involves doing illegal activities, it is not possible to perpetuate it without corruption at a specific point.
Fraud is another offense characteristic of organized crime. Perpetrators of organized crime usually engage in fraudulent activities, for example, escaping paying taxes. Smuggling is another common characteristic. Organized crime in many cases involves the smuggling of goods or humans into a country. For example, arms, drugs, people. Intimidation is used by perpetrators of organized crime so as to gain power over their rivals and get what they want. Racketeering refers to extortion. Extortion is common in organized crime. Once the perpetrators acquire power over someone or something they use it to their advantage to make a profit by extorting them.
Acquisitive crime refers to a crime that is motivated by the need to gain possessions, for example, robbery, theft, and burglary (Allen, 1962). The offense characteristics of acquisitive crime include violence. Criminals use violence to enter people’s property and steal from them or to gain access to private things such as cars, bank accounts. For example, when people hijack vehicles, the criminals may use violence, especially if the victims resist. Vandalism is another offense characteristic. Thieves may vandalize things that may incriminate them such as camera’s and lights to protect their identity.
Use of abusive language is another characteristic. Robbers use abusive language to exercise control over the victims. Another characteristic is theft. Acquisitive crime is mainly composed of robberies and stealing hence; missing possessions are one of the offense characteristics. Substance abuse is the other offense characteristic associated with acquisitive crimes. Perpetrators are often under the influence of some drug or have a substance abuse problem (Bond & Sheridan, 2007). Sometimes the criminal activity may be motivated by drug use, for instance, when individuals steal so that they can get money to purchase drugs.
Murder refers to killing another person. There are different types of murder such as homicide, mass murder, and manslaughter among others. Studies revealed that people who commit murder are often divorced or single males who are in their forties. They also tend to have depressive conditions or axis one paranoid and personality disorders and traits in axis two usually both cluster A and B. In mass murder, it is often motivated by huge losses about relationships or employment.
The individual develops a warrior mentality that suffuses the attack behavior and planning of the person. If the person is psychotic during the time of the attack, there are more deaths and casualties. Unlike popular believe alcohol and drugs play a minor role in mass murderer's behavior. Only 20% of murders usually threaten their victims before actually committing the crime. The offense characteristics for murder include excessive force, signature, and mental disorders.
Perpetrators of murder use force and violence to subdue their victim and kill them. Murders especially those who are serial killers tend to live a signature behind. Something that shows that that murder was committed by the same person as other murders. Serial killers thrive at the recognition they get for committing murders and hence leave a signature sign that associates the murder to them. Mental disorders are a common offense characteristic for perpetrators of murder. The reason some people will commit murders is because they have certain mental disorders that affect their normal functioning.
Investigators have to relate the behavior patterns and character traits that are associated with various crime perpetrators. As a result, they have sought help from professionals who deal with human behavior such as psychologists. Psychologists can explain better issues like psychopathology that may create roadblocks for investigators. Psychologists play a vital role in forensic profiling departments of investigative services. Psychologists, analyze how certain traits influence behavior and criminal activity.
There are no definite behavior patterns or character traits that can be used to identify a person who is going to commit a sex crime. However, there are some behavior patterns and personality traits that can serve as warning signs for a skilled observer. While creating a profile for sex offenders, the following are some of the characteristics the investigator needs to consider. They need to assess potential suspects for sexual contact with adolescents, children, or family members who have at some point been under their care. The investigator needs to look into the history of the suspect for cases of statutory rape, forcible sexual contact or other acts of violence.
Behaviors like bullying and others that involve humiliation or inflicting pain on other people should be noted. Another behavior to look out for is that of watching violent things or being an avid fan of violent activities such as kickboxing. People who watch or participate in violence or aggressive behavior are likely to commit sexual offenses than those who don't. Another warning sign is people who have been known to expose themselves while out in the public.
There are also warning signs for people who are likely to commit murder or to have committed murders even if they are not definite. Serial killers provide a good place to investigate the warning signs to look for in potential murders. However, serial killers are usually hard to catch and often by the time they are brought into custody, they have already left a list of victims in their wake. When it comes to murder, there two types of murders come up. The organized nonsocial offender and the disorganized asocial offender.
The asocial offender includes individuals who have the low intellect, for example, those who dropped out of school. They are socially inadequate and have difficulties maintaining relationships, hence, dating for them poses a problem. They tend to live alone to avoid social awkwardness. Such individuals usually have had an inconsistent or harsh form of discipline in their early years. They tend to be unskilled workers due to their below average intellect. It is also likely that their paternal parent was unstable when they were young. Also, they tend to have a hard a difficult childhood for different reasons, for example, fighting parents.
The organized nonsocial offender is the other type of murderer. He or she has the intellect that is above average. They tend to keep up to date with current events via media. Unlike the disorganized asocial offender, they are socially adequate, sexually competent and will live with someone. They usually have gone through a harsh childhood. Tend to be very good at controlling their emotions and moods in different circumstances. Are often described as diplomatic or charming. If it is a male, they are described to be very masculine. Their offenses are often motivated by occupational or geography surroundings, a situational cause or victim access.
Factors that contribute to maladaptive functioning, behavior.
Environmental, cognitive, social and emotional influences in a person’s life may lead to disruptions in behavioral functions causing them to engage in maladaptive behaviors. For example in sex offenders, they may have experienced sexual abuse as a child (Phillip Chong & Barton-Bellessa, 2012). A lot of sex offenders were sexually abused as children, and this act of abuse more often than wasn't perpetrated by people close to them such as family members. Sexual offenders who abuse children often tell them they are showing love hence, making the child confused on the ideology of love. Other sex offenders were brought up in homes with laid back attitudes concerning sex or uptight families, hence, never got the right notions about sex.
Other factors that may affect people and cause them to commit sexual offenses are peer pressure. For example, a dare may cause a person to do something they wouldn't normally do, and this may open up a new world of possibilities for them where they feel they can do anything since no one stopped them the first time they did it. Behaviors such as bullying that were earlier considered to just kids themselves are being now being shown to have serious consequences for both the victims and the perpetrators. Bullying may not only create sexual offenders either out of the bully or the victim but also creates murderers. Bullies are people who like engaging in and watching acts of violence and enjoy humiliating and inflicting pain on others characteristics that are also present in murderers (Boyle, 2005).
All types of emotional and cognitive intensities are involved while bullying and also environmental and social factors. It happens at different developmental levels and various levels of maturity and experience. Cognitively, bullies may be of high intelligence, above average or below average (Ellis, 2014). Given the right circumstances, almost anyone can develop into a bully and the aggressive acts may continue into adulthood. Bullies who turn into murderers tend to be those with a below average intellect.
One’s social circle influences the kind of person one becomes. Hence, the incessant plea for teenagers to have good company. If the social company is that of bullies, then an individual is likely to turn into a bully too. This is further enhanced if the person doesn't come from a stable home. The environmental influences in the formative years of a child have a great impact on what kind of person he or she turns out to be.
Measures of testing personality.
The multidirectional scaling test (MDS) is a good test to investigate behavior patterns that may indicate the potential for committing murder. It offers a large scale of personality traits that have been found to correlate with certain behaviors that are known to specific crimes. The test also offers recommendations for measures that can be taken to restructure those found to have traits for potential criminal activity. It is useful since it enables therapeutic intervention to take place early enough to prevent potential crimes.
Another test is the Abel Assessment for Sexual Interest-3 (AASI-3). It is used to measure individuals who have shown signs of committing sexual offenses (Abel, 2014). The offender is assessed based on the responses to various questions. It enables the investigator to gain more insight into the offender’s true nature. The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) is used to determine behavior, motivations and personality (Hathaway & McKinley, 1943). The individual is taken through a series of questions and assessed based on the answers given. Another test is the Meyers-Briggs Type Inventory (MBTI) that is used to determine people’s perception and their decision making about their view of the world.
Collateral information that should be obtained for sex offenders includes; hospitalization or therapy while a child, sexual crimes or behaviors and any events that may be linked to maladaptive behavioral consequences. Collateral information essential in the case of murder includes; history of mental illness, peer pressure, for example, bullying and child abuse history (APLS, 2011). Also, it is recommended that the following information is collected; of jobs held, places lived, religious beliefs, family dynamics, cultural nuances, relationships, friendships, positions held and affiliations with societies and clubs.
Psychological interview vs. criminal investigator
Criminal investigators contain a list of goals for every crime committed. First is to confirm the occurrence of the crime. They then proceed to apprehend the criminal. Depending on what crime it is they then find out the victims and, if possible, get their statements. They then work with the prosecution to determine the happenings during the time the crime happened. The ethical responsibilities include securing the scene of the crime so that evidence does not tamper with. Another ethical responsibility is to make sure emergency care is sought especially for sexual assault victims. Securing and collection of evidence is another ethical responsibility.
In psychological interviews, the American Psychological Association (APA) code of ethics is followed. They are conducted to assert the mental status of individuals. One of their ethical responsibilities is to maintain confidentiality ad only share information with those they are answerable to (APA, 2013). Another ethical responsibility is to follow the guidelines of any affiliations they may be working with for example the district laws. Another ethical responsibility is to gather case related mental health information.
One of the recommendations is that those who engage in psychological profiling is trained and educated in the procedures and various tests used. Lack of training and education on procedures used leaves room for errors. In the case of criminal profiling, making the correct inference can be the difference between saving or leading to the death of lives.
Another recommendation is that investigations be expanded to involve members of the society as well. Members of the society often know things that investigators may take the time to find out. Hence, it is advisable that societal members be involved in the criminal investigation process. Psychologists should maintain confidentiality, reliability and objectivity for their clients while investigators ought to get and retain evidence and solve the crime.
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American Psychology-Law Society. (2011). Specialty guidelines for forensic psychology. Retrieved from http://www.ap-ls.org/aboutpsychlaw/SGFP_Final_Approved_2011.pdf
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Ellis, M. (2014) Bullying affects children’s long-term health, study shows. Medical News Today. Retrieved from: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/272762
Hathaway, S. & McKinley, J. (1943). Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory. Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press.
Kamm, F. M. (2008). Terrorism and Intending Evil. Philosophy & Public Affairs, 36(2), 157-186.
Phillip Chong, H. S., & Barton-Bellessa, S. (2012). Pre-offense characteristics of nineteenth-century American parricide offenders: An archival exploration. Journal of Criminal Psychology, 2(1), 51-66.