2005 issue 3

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Volume 14, issue 3

Original article

Forensic-psychiatric expert reviews on substance dependent offenders or offenders acting under the influence of psychoactive substances: (!) reviews issued by experts from the Institute of Psychiatry and Neurology

ZENON KULKA1, ELŻBIETA BOGDANOWICZ1, Krystyna Tarczyńska1, Alfreda Ruzikowska1
1. Klinika Psychiatrii Sądowej Instytutu Psychiatrii i Neurologii w Warszawie
Postępy Psychiatrii i Neurologii 2005; 14 (3): 189-193
Keywords: forensic psychiatric expert opinions, substance dependence

Abstract

Objective. To analyse the forensic-psychiatric reviews issued following observation and out-patient examinations of offenders abusing, dependent on, or acting under the influence of psychoactive substances.

Method. A customised questionnaire was used to analyse 36 expert forensic-psychiatric reviews issued after hospital observation and 14 reviews issued after out-patient examination by forensic psychiatrists from the Institute of Psychiatry and Neurology in 1992-2002. The following variables were analysed: the patients' age, sex, psychiatric diagnosis, type and number of offences committed, type and number of psychoactive substances used, and sanity.

Results. Only one review concerned a woman. The offenders' age rangedfrom 17 to 46 years (M = 26); 26 of them were diagnosed as substance dependent and 24 were diagnosed as substance abusers. Additionally, 13 offenders were also diagnosed as alcohol dependent, 34 had personality disorders and 2 had organic personality disorders. Most of the offenders were intoxicated tempore criminis but in 21 cases theforensic psychiatrists found no grounds for diagnosing insanity according to art. 31 § 1 of the criminal code but resolved to apply art. 31 § 3 cc. With respect to the two offenders with organic personality disorders they resolved to apply art. 31 § 2 cc (seriously reduced sanity). Only in one of the 24 offenders who were not intoxicated tempore criminis did the intensity of the withdrawal syndrome justify resolution to plead seriously reduced sanity. Most offences (60%) were offences against property and 20% were offences against life and health. Most offenders had been taking more than one psychoactive substance, mostly stimulants, less frequently cannabis and hallucinogens. They very seldom took opiates, volatile substances or tranquillisers.

Conclusions. In the majority of the studied cases legally sanctioned offences, mostly against property and against health or life, did notjustify the resolution to plead insanity or reduced sanity. In a few cases, the forensic psychiatrists resolved to apply for application of art. 31 § 3 or plead reduced sanity. Part two of this study will compare this forensic psychiatric practice with the practice in other psychiatric centres.

Address for correspondence:
Dr Zenon Kulka, Klinika Psychiatrii Sądowej Instytutu Psychiatrii i Neurologii, ul. Sobieskiego 9, 02-957 Warszawa