As the name suggests, profiling is a technique used in criminal investigation to create a picture or a suspect profile based on their psychological and behavioral traits. Profiling aims to analyze a suspect’s behavior and psychology related to a certain crime’s patterns and characteristics to help law enforcement agencies identify and apprehend the right suspects for the crime committed (Petherick & Brooks, 2020). Profiling is a handy tool in courts of law during criminal proceedings to guide the court on the suspect’s motivation, why they committed the crime, methods they used to commit the crime, and future motivations and intent to commit crimes. There are various areas where profiling may be used in courts, including Analyzing the behavior, suspect identification, and expert testimony. Profiling also offers several types of evidence in courts during criminal proceedings.
The area of behavior analysis can make use of profiling to analyze a perpetrator’s behavior moments before committing a crime when committing the crime, and also their behavior after committing the crime. The behavioral analysis information provided via profiling can be used to establish patterns of the perpetrator’s motive and methods of operation, which can be used to make a case in court. In addition, the information from the behavioral analysis can be used to draw patterns between crimes and link them to an offender, especially serial crimes. The second area where profiling may be used in court is the area of suspect identification, where investigators narrow down to a specific suspect from a group of potential perpetrators (Dean & Yule, 2017) based on the known characteristics and patterns of the committed crime.
When the investigators focus on behavioral traits, gender, age, and other profiling factors, they can narrow down to the potential perpetrator. The information used to identify the suspect may be used in court to prove the suspect fit the profile and identify the perpetrator. Another area where profiling may be used is the area of expert testimony, where an expert or knowledgeable profilers may provide the court with expertise in behavior profiling. Expert testimony educates the judge and the jury on the suspect psychological traits as well as the characteristics of the crime so that they may better understand the case.
The various types of evidence offered by profiling in criminal proceedings include; modus operandi, motive, victimology, and the offender’s characteristics. Modus operandi, which refers to a criminal’s methods of operation, can be brought up in court by profiling (Petherick, 2012). The modus operandi evidence may include how the suspect chooses their victims, the time of committing crimes, weapons used, and geographic locations for committing the crimes. The modus operandi evidence can build a strong case against a perpetrator in court. The motive type of evidence offered by profiling a criminal, which looks into why a crime was committed, and why the criminal committed the crime, their behavior before, during, and after committing a crime, can be used to show intent and their state of mind. Intent and state of mind are crucial in establishing guilt.
The third type of evidence offered in criminal proceedings by profiling is victimology evidence. Victimology evidence includes the victims’ characteristics, such as age, gender, physical appearance, and occupation. Victimology evidence can be used to prove guilt by showing connection links between targeted victims and the accused. Lastly, another type of evidence offered in criminal proceedings by profiling is the offender’s characteristics. By profiling the offender, their psychological traits, and their behavior, profilers can link their characteristics to the characteristics of the crime committed. The presented offender’s characteristics provide the court with the offender’s motive, future behavior, and the likelihood of committing a crime.
Petherick, W. (2012). Profiling and serial crime: Theoretical and practical issues. Newnes.
Petherick, W., & Brooks, N. (2020). Reframing criminal profiling: A guide for integrated practice. Psychiatry, Psychology and Law, 28(5), 694-710. https://doi.org/10.1080/13218719.2020.1837030
Dean, G., & Yule, S. (2017). Criminal profiling. The Palgrave Handbook of Australian and New Zealand Criminology, Crime and Justice, 847-862. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-55747-2_56