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Behavioural Genetics in Criminal Cases: Past, Present and Future


Nita A. Farahany


Duke University - School of Law; Duke University - Institute for Genome Sciences & Policy

William Bernet


Vanderbilt University


Genomics, Society and Policy, Vol. 2, No. 1, pp. 72-79, 2006
Vanderbilt Public Law Research Paper No. 06-15

Abstract:     
Researchers studying human behavioral genetics have made significant scientific progress in enhancing our understanding of the relative contributions of genetics and the environment in observed variations in human behavior. Quickly outpacing the advances in the science are its applications in the criminal justice system. Already, human behavioral genetics research has been introduced in the U.S. criminal justice system, and its use will only become more prevalent. This essay discusses the recent historical use of behavioral genetics in criminal cases, recent advances in two gene variants of particular interest in the criminal law, MAOA and SLC6A4, the recent expert testimony on behalf of criminal defendants with respect to these two gene variants, and the future direction of behavioral genetics evidence in criminal cases.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 9

Keywords: Criminal law, genetics, behavioral genetics, behavioral predispositions, neurology, neuroscience, serotonin, SLC6A4, MAOA, Monamine Oxidase A, actus reus, voluntary act, mens rea, insanity defense, mitigating evidence, aggravating evidence, sentencing, liability, Caspi, violence, aggression, antisoc

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Date posted: June 16, 2006  

Suggested Citation

Farahany, Nita A. and Bernet, William, Behavioural Genetics in Criminal Cases: Past, Present and Future. Genomics, Society and Policy, Vol. 2, No. 1, pp. 72-79, 2006; Vanderbilt Public Law Research Paper No. 06-15. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=908938

Contact Information

Nita A. Farahany (Contact Author)
Duke University - School of Law ( email )
Box 90360
Duke School of Law
Durham, NC 27708
United States
HOME PAGE: http://www.law.duke.edu/fac/farahany
Duke University - Institute for Genome Sciences & Policy ( email )
240 North Building
Box 90141
Durham, CA 27708
United States
William Bernet
Vanderbilt University ( email )
Nashville, TN 37240
United States
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