Posttraumatic stress disorder and diminished criminal responsibility as "new evidence" in criminal revision procedures

Eric Rassin*, Irena Boskovic, Harald Merckelbach

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may affect victims of crime, but may also be reported by offenders. In the postappeal phase, offenders may claim to suffer from chronic PTSD and argue that this indicates diminished criminal responsibility at the time the index crime was committed. As members of a Dutch criminal cases review commission, we recently encountered two cases in which PTSD was presented as new evidence that would justify a reopening of the case. In this article, we argue that such claims are problematic in that clinical decision making resulting in a PTSD diagnosis adheres to quite different standards than those dictating forensic fact-finding. The two cases illustrate the difference between criminal and clinical fact-finding.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1911-1913
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of Forensic Sciences
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018


  • forensic science
  • posttraumatic stress disorder
  • psychiatry
  • psychology
  • expert-witnesses
  • behavioral science
  • PTSD
  • Police/psychology
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events
  • Male
  • Forensic Psychiatry/legislation & jurisprudence
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic/psychology
  • Adult Survivors of Child Abuse/legislation & jurisprudence
  • Netherlands
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Child
  • Homicide/legislation & jurisprudence

Cite this