Use of Genetic and Neuroscientific Evidence in Criminal Cases: A Brief History of “Neurolaw”

Part of the SpringerBriefs in Ethics book series (BRIEFSETHIC)


As scientific understanding of behavioural genetics and brain physiology have increased, so too have attempts to utilise this information in criminal cases. Defendants in a growing number of jurisdictions have sought the influence of such factors upon a favourable outcome for their trials or a reduction in the subsequent sentence received. This chapter reviews some of the most prominent international cases in which attempts have been made to introduce genetic or brain imaging evidence into criminal proceedings. The majority have taken place in the USA, which seems to have been quicker to allow consideration of this kind of evidence within the legal system. A willingness to reflect on the merits of evidence of this kind does not necessarily translate into a willingness to let it influence the decisions made. To date, there remain relatively few examples where neuroscientific evidence has had a significant impact on the outcome of the case, but there have been some, and their number is growing.


Daubert Death penalty Fitness to plead Frye Genetic predisposition Ineffective assistance of counsel Life without parole MAOA Neurolaw 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Molecular and Cell BiologyUniversity of LeicesterLeicesterUK

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