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Forensic Psychological Evaluations: Considerations for Criminal and Civil Attorneys

(576 reviews)

Produced on May 21, 2015

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Course Information

Time 90 minutes
Difficulty Advanced
Categories Litigation

Course Description

This course focuses on a primary area of forensic psychology practice: forensic mental health assessment (FMHA). FMHA  refers to the process mental health professionals engage in when conducting evaluations for the courts or for attorneys who have retained them. Forensic psychologists are not simply clinical psychologists practicing in the legal arena, and forensic evaluations are not just psychological evaluations for legal cases. Rather, forensic practitioners have specialized training and conduct evaluations in a manner distinct from traditional psychological assessments. 


This course is provided by Daniel Agatino, Ph.D., Esq., a New Jersey-based criminal defense and entertainment/copyright law attorney, and Gianni Pirelli, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist who maintains a private forensic psychology practice in New Jersey. They address the distinctions between the forensic and therapeutic roles of mental health professionals, and highlight the significant differences in how forensic psychologists approach and conduct evaluations as compared to clinical psychologists, psychiatrists, and psychotherapists. In addition, the instructors provide an overview of the types of criminal and civil psychological evaluations typically conducted by forensic psychologists, including but not limited to:


I.   Criminal

a.   Criminal Competencies

b.   Criminal Responsibility (e.g., Diminished Capacity, Insanity)

c.   Sentencing Mitigation


II.   Civil

a.   Civil Commitment

b.   Civil Competencies

c.    Personal Injury

d.    Workers’ Compensation and Employment Discrimination

e.    Fitness for Duty

f.     Firearm Evaluations

g.    Immigration

h.    Domestic and Family Matters


Learning Objectives:

I.    Recognize the distinction between the roles of psychologists, psychiatrists, and therapists in criminal and civil matters 

II.   Appreciate Forensic Mental Health Assessments (FMHAs): what they are, when to use them, and how they are conducted

III.  Grasp the different types of forensic psychological assessment approaches 

IV.  Identify the psychiatric disorders typically seen in criminal and civil cases

V.  Understand the considerations relevant to the direct and cross-examination of psychological and psychiatric experts


Credit Information

After completing this course, Lawline will report your attendance information to {{ accredMasterState.state.name }}. Please ensure your license number is filled out in your profile to ensure timely reporting. For more information, see our {{ accredMasterState.state.name }} CLE Requirements page . After completing this course, {{ accredMasterState.state.name }} attorneys self-report their attendance and CLE compliance. For more information on how to report your CLE courses, see our {{ accredMasterState.state.name }} CLE Requirements FAQ .


Daniel Agatino

Gruber Colabella Liuzza Williams

Daniel Agatino  leads the priest/clergy sexual abuse team at Gruber Colabella Liuzza & Thompson and also handles criminal defense and municipal court matters.  Dan is also well-versed in the areas of entertainment and copyright law. He holds a doctorate in Communication and he uses his expertise to  engage in both oral and written negotiations for his clients.

Educational Background

  • Ph. D., Rutgers University School of Communication, Information and Library Studies, New Brunswick, NJ 2002
  • Juris Doctorate, Rutgers University School of Law, Newark, NJ 1999
  • M.A. Communication, William Paterson University, 1995

Career History

  • Assistant Professor, College of Saint Elizabeth, 2000–Present
  • Adjunct Professor of Law, Seton Hall University School of Law, 2007-Present
  • Law Office of Patricia Colligan, P.C., 2001-2008
  • Law Office of H. Scott Aalsberg, P.C., 2000-2001

Professional Accomplishments

  • Admitted to practice, State of New Jersey
  • Certified in Alternative Dispute Resolution, by Rutgers University School of Continuing Education
  • Regular guest commentator on TruTV's program, The Best Defense
  • Contributing Author in: How to Achieve a Heaven on Earth. John Wade II, Donald Frampton, Right Honorable Charles "Tony" Blair, and then President-Elect Barack Obama (Paperback - Jan. 11, 2010)
  • Author of: Teaching with Multimedia Pedagogy in the Webshpere, Volume 1, O'Connell, (Editor); Agatino, Daniel & Koski (co-authors) Copyright Theft in the Multimedia Classroom (Chapter 3), Hampton Press. NJ 2008 (Expected Publication Date).
  • Author of: Whistleblowing. Encyclopedia of Law Enforcement, Sullivan, Larry E., ed 3 vols. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, 2005.

Gianni Pirelli

Pirelli Clinical and Forensic Psychology

Dr. Pirelli is Board Certified in Forensic Psychology and a Licensed Psychologist in New Jersey and New York. He has worked in numerous clinical, correctional, and forensic settings over the years, and he currently leads the group practice: Pirelli Clinical and Forensic Psychology, LLC (www.gpirelli.com). Dr. Pirelli has conducted a range of evaluations in criminal, civil, and administrative matters in 18 of 21 NJ counties and 5 states. He routinely provides expert testimony in such contexts as well. In addition, he has taught over 40 courses at the undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral levels, and he continues to give talks and provide CE and CLE workshops on a variety of forensic topics and to a range of professional and community groups. Dr. Pirelli is also the Editor of the NJ state association journal, the New Jersey Psychologist, and he maintains an active research and publication record reflecting his particular expertise in professional ethics, forensic psychology practice standards, and guns and mental health – to include his three books with Oxford University Press: The Ethical Practice of Forensic Psychology: A Casebook (2017), The Behavioral Science of Firearms: A Mental Health Perspective on Guns, Suicide, and Violence (2019), and Guns in Clinical Practice: A Handbook for Medical and Mental Health Professionals (in progress, under contract). Dr. Pirelli's research has also been cited in amicus briefs to the United States Supreme Court and to the New York Court of Appeals.


Colleen S.


Robert E.

One of the best presentations I have seen. Both participants were highly knowledgable and interesting.

cassidy m.

the conversation presentation format is, in general, more engaging than the typical lecture format

R. Christopher R.

Cross-discipline courses are always appreciated

Gerard S.

Great course.

Chris C.

Informative and interesting. Outstanding in every way.

Linda R.

Very informative and up to date.

William D.

Very well presented and informative.

John W.


Jean W.

Good presentation.

Gregory C.

It was good.

Karla C.

Good speakers; worked well together.

Dennis J.

great presentation

Rita Q.

Great seminar. Best one so far.

Hugh A. P.

Very helpful and interesting

Leta B.

I was impressed the speaker was sensitive to labeling people and displayed the wisdom of actually seeing people rather than just labels.

Margaret L.

This was right on for one of my current courses. Thanks!

Erich S.


James M.

Presenters were stellar. One of the best programs thus far.

Clara K.

Fantastic course. Very good presentation.


Wonderfully done!

Peter C.

Mr. Ferrelli came across very down to earth and real when he spoke about his role within the legal process. very interesting.

Yancey P.

Fantastic job on this topic.

Jeffrey P. R.

Good substance, but came across as a marketing piece.

Sally S.

very good

elizabeth v.

Excellent presentation and highly relevant to my practice.

William W.

very interesting subject on something i have little involvement - good to learn new things!

Rodrick W.

This seminar started me to seriously consider using a forensic psychologist in some of my PI cases where there are PTSD type injuries. It was very informative.

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