Forensic Hypnosis is the use of the science of hypnosis in civil and criminal investigation where hypnosis is the instrument used to elicit information or evidence. Hypnosis is an altered state of consciousness where the mind is in a condition of amplified receptivity to suggestion and the senses are at an acute level of receptivity. The degree or level of hypnosis varies from very light to very deep and usually include relaxation, a feeling of well being and increased sensitivity to ones environment.
What is a Forensic Hypnotist or Hypno-Investigator?
Is an investigator who is trained in investigation techniques and hypnosis or hypnotherapy and utilizes these skills to gather facts, information or evidence pertaining to, or that may be, or later become the subject of legal proceedings, prosecution, civil process, internal disciplinary procedure or ethics inquiry.
What is the court’s view of hypnotically refreshed recall?
Hypnosis and other techniques or modalities which are considered to be hypnotic are governed by a definitive set of rules or protocols that the court will consider before such evidence is admitted into Court. The use of hypnosis to enhance memory is reflected in R v Jenkyns (1993) 32 NSWLR 712 and in R v Tillott (1995) 38 NSWLR 1, in the latter the Court of Criminal Appeal considered that hypnosis and associated techniques could present risks of suggestibility, confabulation, pseudo memory, an unjustified increase in witness confidence, and possible falsity. The Court has laid down a specific set of rules that should be followed to safe guard the evidentiary process of hypnosis. As a result, prosecution disclosure is required of any material in the prosecutions possession concerning the circumstances in which a memory has been recovered: R v CPK NSWCCA 21 June 1995.
The acceptance of Forensic Hypnosis may vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Some tribunals, Commissions and boards of inquiry may have specific exceptions to the hearsay rule which in turn may impact on the acceptance of hypnotically induced evidence. Courts may have a very different attitude to therapeutic hypnotherapy in cases where an accused or person under sentence is undergoing therapy or counseling therefore hypnotherapists are advised to seek qualified legal advice before utilizing Forensic Hypnosis in particular circumstances. Forensic-investigative hypnosis is a highly specialized application, which requires specific knowledge, skills, and experience coupled with the application of strict procedures to protect the integrity of its use. A qualified Forensic Hypnotist can evaluate and determine whether hypnosis should be used in a particular civil, criminal or tribunal matter.