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

9 Pages Posted: 16 Jun 2006  

Nita A. Farahany

Duke University School of Law

William Bernet

Vanderbilt University

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.

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

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: https://ssrn.com/abstract=908938

Nita A. Farahany (Contact Author)

Duke University School of Law ( email )

210 Science Drive
Box 90362
Durham, NC 27708
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.duke.edu/fac/farahany

William Bernet

Vanderbilt University ( email )

Nashville, TN 37240
United States

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