This Article is written by Harmanjot Kaur and the article has been edited by Khushi Sharma (Trainee Associate, Blog iPleaders) and Vanshika Kapoor (Senior Managing Editor, Blog iPleaders).


Whenever we think about criminal law, an image of a crime scene is created in our minds. This may include a murder, a scene at a trial court, a criminal investigation scene, or the brutality at the police custody filled with coercion so that the criminal admits his guilt and provide the statements for documentation. 

Why is criminal psychology a grey area

People often are very curious about ‘criminal forensics. The most probable image that one gets when thinking about criminal law is the trial court, white-collar defence, or cybercrime. In the case of India, a struggle for the protest and candle march for the conviction of the death penalty for a rapist. 

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We only tend to confine our understanding to some of the landmark judgements of Vishakha vs the State of Rajasthan relating to the sexual harassment at the workplace; ADM Jabalpur vs Shivkant Shukla famously known as Habeus Corpus Case; Bachan Singh vs State of Punjab related to Section 302 and the death penalty as the punishment; Rudal Shah vs the State of Bihar, related to confining the person to the imprisonment and scope of free legal aid to name a few.

Which field is more lucrative

A criminal forensic can earn up to $66,797 per year according to the national average.

Moreover, the criminal forensic has to learn a large amount of text related to biology, science and small nitty-gritty related to law and science. 

However, a criminal psychologist is someone who has to learn about the mind, intuition, memory, and brain disorders. A criminal psychologist on the other hand can earn up to $104,852 per year according to the national average.

Internationally, in comparison to forensic science; criminal psychology can be a pretty lucrative career option. It is a worthwhile professional alternative making an average of $60,000 and $70,000 per annum, according to the American Psychological Association. In comparison with this, a criminal psychologist can procure upto $80,370 a year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

How can it better understand people’s views and reasons for crimes

Today, we cannot ignore the fact that there is an organised structure of crimes. This is a combination of an individual’s psychological, environmental, biological, personality type, learning motivations or cognition, all or any of these reasons.

However, there is an increase in cases related to group crimes which are highly motivated due to social factors. We see the Bois-Locker room as one of the instances of how juvenile delinquencies are rising these days. 

Furthermore, the example of terrorism, insurgencies, sedition, Naxalism-movements, Atrocities against SC/STs which are more of the group-level crimes is increasing on an exponential level.

Although there are clear provisions under the law, which talks about the prohibition of offences against women, we see an increase in the cases of offenders in this case as well.

In simpler words, the job of a criminal psychologist has a wider scope of the pre-crime period as a counsellor, therapist, confidant, physician or mentor to advise a person with a criminal intent to use the energy productively and economically. He can teach a criminal about the LEAN mindset, SWOT analysis of his actions, cost-benefit analysis, investment management and better alternatives to gratify him and earn money than to indulge in criminal activities. At the time after, the crime has been committed, he can be the one to rely on for the MRI reports, counsellor for a rape victim, an advisor to the courts about the credibility of eye-witness based on speech, tone, pitch and body language. He can even act as an interviewer surveying the cross-examination. 

On the contrary, criminal forensics has a narrower scope. It is confined only to the post-crime period. He can go to the crime scene, investigate the findings; do a DNA and forensics test in case of a paternity establishment of a lost child etc. This is a more research-oriented field, where one has to work in labs in isolation.

What perspective change can it bring to society

We can observe that there is a huge scope of criminal psychology. The research can help us build theories related to criminology. This will aid a strong Police, CBI and Defence system. Also, this will retaliate the increasing crime rates all over the world. Likewise, private practitioners can be appointed. These can help as legal advocates, counsellors and even at rehabilitation centres. We have observed that eyewitness testimony can be manipulated or misled by the combined efforts of hypnotism and psychology. Also, a deeper understanding and the study of the manipulations of eyewitness testimony can result in better aid to the criminal justice system, as the evidence would not be distorted. This would have a better and accurate overall conviction rate of the offenders. 

How will it benefit men and women differently

Because male and female psychology is different from each other, it will be better to provide a specialized expert in a respective field only. It will carve the talent in a specific way rather than blindly following the varied paths. According to the research by Northwestern Medicine, it has been found that there are behavioural and psychological differences in the male and female brains in the way they express emotions, language and process information. Therefore, specialized female trainers should be appointed for women offenders. This would also help in women empowerment. Furthermore, this will result in an increased employment rate as people will only focus on their specialised core area and have complete expertise over their subject. 

What does it take to be a good criminal psychologist 

Having good intuition 

Having a good intuition is like a cherry on top of a law degree. Here one cannot only counsel the client in a better way but also reflect and see how well he can relate to the client’s situation, his intention of doing a criminal act. This includes his fear of being unemployed, stress and broken relations at work etc.

Being a natural empath

One should be able to enjoy solitude and easily carve a plan, say, a walk-in nature, going to a favourite place etc. There are certain diseases and mental disorders such as schizophrenia, autism, and bipolar disorder where a person cannot know what he is going through. But there are constant episodes of ‘highs’ and ‘lows’. During the ‘high’ phase a person loses self-control and try reckless activities. During the ‘low’ phase he would try self-sabotaging activities such as suicide and even taking excess medications. Also, there are instances of obsessive-compulsive disorders, related to the unrelented desire to do something, irrespective of thinking about the consequences or the related areas about what can happen as a consequence of one’s actions. 

Can work on relatively more areas

Here the person can work both in pre-criminal and post criminal offence that has been committed. One can advise a person even before committing a crime. One can easily work on the pre-crime areas such as giving the right direction, working on the psychology and the related areas of the field. In the post crime phase, one can explain and counsel the rape victim as well. One can counsel a witness and a client about the pre-trial period. One can also guide anyone related to the witness presentation and the related fields. 

Good at introspection

In case someone is good at thinking about things at a deeper level, one should go for it. For example, a simple question, as it was used by Buddha to test the deeper thinking of one of his students was: Can you bathe in the same river twice? One of the students quickly said: Yes. Others said: No. then Buddha asked him to explain the reason. When he can’t explain, then Buddha said that since the water is always flowing, the water that was before is no longer there the next time one dips in the water. This was how he explained the concept of Kshanikvada.

Having a good EQ

In case one has a good Emotional Quotient, one can easily sail through this. One should be able to read body language efficiently, be able to understand the psychology of the client and also be able to understand how and where one can see where the party’s pain points are. 

Good at stress management and ability to devise ways to destress

Since most of the criminals have a bad past, there are areas such as broken family relations, truancy at the time of childhood, bad company and many similar areas. So, one should be able to manage stress efficiently. What should be the creative ways to devise or to get out of the daily stress.

What does a criminal forensics expert do

He works on the areas post criminal offence is committed 

In this case, we see that a person can work only in a post criminal offence period. One does work only after the offence has been committed. One works on looking into the evidence and be able to see what has already been done.

Needs more expertise in technical areas

One should have expertise in the technical fields such as computer skills, be good at organizing material related to the various areas and findings etc. One should be able to have due diligence and keenness to have expertise in the related areas.

Needs expertise in computer-based database programs

One should be able to understand how and which dongle, cables or software would be used when. So, one should be able to get into the LINUX and other complex areas related to computer-based database systems.

Needs to have a high level of self-control over one’s emotions

Since there are areas where the relatives of someone would be murdered in front of their eyes and they cannot do anything about it. Here, the person may be crying in front of that person and so he cannot do anything. But here, he has to stop everyone even from coming there and ask them to stop coming near as this may damage the evidence present there. 

Have to be good at teamwork

One should be a team player. Since at the time of the criminal forensics’ investigation. One person would be involved in the investigation of a dead body, other would be looking into digital devices and other areas. 

Attention to details

One has to have attention to detail so that he can be able to get through the job of criminal forensics. He should be able to see what are the areas which are there which can cause the dispute or are susceptible to a threat such as ransomware, malware etc.

How viable is it in the present times

We see that today there is more research in the areas such as forensic science. However, we see that because men and women are different and their orientation of how they manage stressful situations, a specialized therapist for this purpose would be better. This specialist would be separate as if one for the rape cases, others solely acting for the acid attack victims, others solely responsible for tackling the psychological aspect of why the criminal was induced to even attack the acid attack victim. Prof. John Henry Wigmore pointed out that the critical analysis of the law of evidence is often ignored because of the use of manipulative techniques. It has been found that the memories beyond the time frame of 4 years are very hard to trust. They are not a reliable source. Furthermore, just by repeating some fake scenes again and again in front of a witness and by right ways of pitching, pauses and priming such as using specific words over and over again can change the original picture of what actually took place at a crime scene. Overall, this increases recidivism and results in a poor conviction rate. 


In the light of the above discussion, we see that there is enough scope for development in the case of a criminal psychologist. It will help us to carve out the reasons based on the individual’s reasons. Today, we also see parallelism in the Indian Constitution from which Administrative Law, a relatively new branch of law, is carved out. On similar lines, we see the evolution of arbitration law taking place of the traditional litigation system. 

Similarly, tribunals are taking specialised cases based on their area of specialisation. 

This is a great instance to demonstrate how the specialisation in one particular field can be more beneficial than getting a hand into everything that comes one’s way. After all, it is truly said: ‘A Jack of all trades, is a master none.’

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