Forensic Evaluations & Forensic Psychological Services
Both Dr. Roy Etheridge and Dr. Mary Anne Etheridge have rich forensic backgrounds and offer specific evaluations, forensic consulting, and expert testimony. Both doctors have testified as expert witnesses in Wake County and elsewhere. Forensic services are not health care services and are not covered by health insurance.
Criminal Cases: Court-Ordered Evaluations, Consultation, and Expert Testimony
Our forensic psychologists are experienced in examinations of individuals accused of criminal offenses, particularly sexual offenses, violent offenses, and homicide.
psychosexual or sex offender specific evaluations (SOSE)
sex offender risk assessment
violence risk assessment
competency to stand trial
capacity to proceed
evaluation of potentially mitigating factors
We travel to jails, prisons, attorneys' offices, and other locations throughout North Carolina for our forensic services. We offer consultation services to attorneys as well as expert witness testimony.
We are approved to provide forensic psychological services for indigent defendants with North Carolina Indigent Defense Services (NCIDS).
Civil Cases: Court-Ordered Evaluations and Other Services
We conduct court-ordered evaluations in a respectful, dignified manner. We provide forensic examinations in certain types of civil cases:
mental health sequelae of accidents/injuries
other situations when there is a question about an individual's mental health, emotional harm, or ability to care for oneself
We no longer offer forensic services relating to: divorce, parental capacity, child custody, or child protective services. We do evaluate individuals charged with a criminal child abuse or child sex offense.
Forensic Services Not Related to Court
veterans seeking benefits for PTSD or another mental health condition related to their military service
fitness-for-duty evaluations, such as psychological evaluations required by employers after an incident at work or school
worker's compensation and mental health disability cases
Rates for Forensic Psychological Services
Our rates are subject to change at any time without notice. The following information is provided only as a guide to our fees for forensic services. These rates do not apply when the service is paid for by the State of North Carolina Office of Indigent Defense Services (NCIDS) or another agency with which we have a prior arrangement.
Forensic Examinations: $300 per hour
Depositions and Court Testimony: $500 per hour
Total Fee Estimate
Most forensic examinations result in total fees ranging from $2500 to $4000, but this is only an estimate. Your fees may be higher or lower depending on the time required to complete the forensic service. No work product will be completed until all outstanding fees are paid.
Forensic Examinations: $2500
Depositions and Court Testimony: $3000 half day, $5000 full day
A retainer is required upon scheduling unless other arrangements have been made. Retainer requirements will be higher for evaluations rendered outside of our office (e.g., in an attorney’s office or institution) and may also be higher if we determine that more time than usual will be involved (e.g., extensive record review, travel, collateral phone calls).
Descriptions of Our Forensic Services
General Forensic Psychological Evaluation
A mental health evaluation/assessment aimed at determining whether the assessed individual suffers from any psychological symptoms or personality characteristics that may impact the legal issue at hand.
Psychosexual Evaluation with Risk Assessment
For individuals who have been charged with a sexual offense. A psychological evaluation that assesses the individual’s overall mental health as well as a detailed assessment of the individual’s sexual history, thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Additionally, the psychologist assesses the risk that the individual will engage in sexually deviant acts in the future.
Violence Risk Assessment
A psychological evaluation that is aimed at assessing an individual’s overall mental health as well as determining the risk that the individual will engage in violent behavior in the future. May be requested by an attorney, court, school, or employer.
When it is suspected that an adult lacks the mental/psychological ability to care for themselves, handle their own finances, or make other important decisions, a guardianship evaluation can be helpful. This evaluation is typically ordered by a court or recommended by an attorney.
When an individual is seeking to be allowed to remain in the U.S. legally and there are psychological or psychosocial factors that may impact the government’s decision, an immigration evaluation can be helpful.
Fitness for Duty Evaluation
This type of evaluation is usually requested by the individual’s school, college, workplace, or church. It can be requested as a pre-employment condition in high-risk jobs such as police officer, security guard, or church official. This assessment is aimed at determining whether the individual has the psychological capacity to handle the requirements of the job and to work safely with others. This evaluation may also be requested if the individual was involved in an incident at work or school or if the individual has displayed behaviors that raise concerns.
Worker's Comp/Disability Evaluation
This type of evaluation typically involves a psychological evaluation and testing of the individual to assist in a Worker's Compensation or disability claim. We do not determine whether you qualify for benefits. VA examinations vary - please call our office for more information.
We may be hired by attorneys to consult on a case. Examples include educating the attorney about a client’s mental illness, assisting in jury selection or trial, or critiquing another psychologist’s work.
We may be asked to testify in court as an expert regarding an evaluation we have conducted. The evaluation report may be read out loud in open court, and we must answer questions about the report and what transpired during conversations with the subject and any other individual. We may be asked to discuss our knowledge regarding the research in a specific area of psychology as it relates to the subject. We may also be asked to educate the court on a specific mental health-related topic. Retainer includes preparation estimate, travel time, waiting time, and expert testimony. Retainer may be higher for travel outside Wake County, NC or if extensive pre-court preparation is needed. Time reserved but not used for testimony is still billable, as the psychologist must block their schedule and cannot use that time for other work.
Frequently Asked Questions about Forensic Evaluations
What is a forensic evaluation?
In short, a forensic evaluation is any psychological evaluation that is related to a legal proceeding. This includes court-ordered psychological evaluations, violence risk assessments, parenting capacity evaluations, competency to stand trial examinations, guardianship evaluations, or any other evaluation related to a civil or criminal legal proceeding. Psychologists also provide services other than forensic examinations, such as attorney consultation, expert witness testimony for the purpose of educating the court about a specific psychological matter, and fact witness services.
Certain services are considered to be forensic psychological services that do not involve the court system at all. These include Worker's Compensation examinations, disability evaluations, fitness evaluations for police applicants and other public service applicants, and Veteran's Administration evaluations. These are legal-related evaluations that do not typically involve civil or criminal court.
How is a forensic evaluation different from a regular psychological evaluation?
Forensic evaluations or examinations are not healthcare services. You are not considered to be our patient or client; the "client" is typically the person or agency that requests the evaluation or service. This allows us to be as neutral as possible, as we do not develop a typical doctor/patient relationship with you.
A forensic psychological report is much longer and more detailed than one completed for healthcare purposes. In fact, we often choose different psychological tests for forensic evaluations than for clinical (non-forensic) evaluations. In clinical evaluations, we are encouraged by health insurance companies to use shorter instruments (although we always used evidence-based instruments and practices) and to write our reports as concisely as possible. Forensic psychological evaluations use the most well-researched psychological tests available without the limitations of health insurance restrictions.
The forensic psychologist's goal is not to simply diagnose you but to answer specific questions posed by the "client," such as:
"Was this person sane at the time of his offense?"
"Does this individual's diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease require him to be appointed a guardian to handle his affairs?"
"Is this individual at risk of committing a sexually violent offense if released to the community?"
These questions require the psychologist to have specific education, training, and expertise in forensic psychology.
Does my health insurance cover my forensic evaluation?
Health insurance does not cover forensic services, and we cannot file a claim or provide you with a superbill. Health insurance companies pay for medical services, and a forensic evaluation (or any other forensic psychological service) is not a medical or healthcare service and does not involve rendering healthcare services to you. Forensic services are more expensive than regular healthcare services because forensic psychologists are required to have extensive training in forensic psychology beyond their clinical training.
Our forensic psychologists conduct evaluations within the strict ethical guidelines of the American Psychological Association and the laws and rules of the North Carolina Psychology Board. As such, we cannot guarantee a specific outcome, diagnosis, or recommendation upon conducting an evaluation. There is a chance that you will be unhappy with the results or that the evaluation will not benefit your case, and we do not issue refunds. Most forensic services must be coordinated through your attorney. Finally, forensic evaluations are legal, not medical services and must be paid out-of-pocket. Forensic services cannot and will not be billed to your health insurance company.