Murder in the Hispanic Community
(book in preparation, research stage).
Dr. LaCalle is accumulating and
documenting his personal experiences with capital and murder cases
involving Hispanics. To date, he has worked on 200 murder cases and is in
the process of analyzing the commonalties of many of those murderers, as
well as defining the common cultural issues contributing to the
motivation behind those crimes.
Preliminary findings suggest that
the majority of the homicides committed by Hispanics are not predatory in
nature, but frequently are based on passion, cultural dictums, family
feuds and alcohol abuse. Perhaps, the only exceptions with Hispanics as
with many other ethnic groups, are the drug-related murders, which, in the
majority of cases, are predatory in nature.
The book also will deal with
frequent issues arising in the preparation of the defense of the Hispanic
murders. Preliminary findings suggest that since most of the Hispanics
involved in homicides are in the lower socio-economic class, the quality
of the legal defense available to them is determined not by their personal
financial resources, but by the quality of the public legal defense system
available in their specific states and counties. Instances of lack of due
process, violation of constitutional rights, disregard of the
international rights of foreign defendants, manipulation of so-called
"confessions," frequent disregard of Miranda Rights, physical
intimidation, etc., will be addressed.
Miranda Admonition to Hispanics:
Invalid Waivers Due to Cognitive and Volitional Deficiencies.
The experience of hundreds if not
thousands of Hispanic defendants tells us that the police and district
attorney investigators and agents appear to treat the Miranda admonition
as a sort of nuisance that blocks the legitimate task of obtaining
information and confessions.
It is the author's contention that the Miranda admonition can be properly
administered to persons of very limited intelligence, with no educational
background and of very different cultural backgrounds.
The manner in which the Miranda admonition is often given to Hispanic
subjects renders the admonition unintelligible, either because the words
used make no sense in Spanish or because the words cannot be understood by
Hispanic subjects of lower intelligence or limited educational background.
Another important issue is the
"voluntary" waiver. Many unsophisticated Hispanics, especially those
from Mexican and Central American rural areas, have had experiences in
their lives that taught them that one must always say "yes" to the police
in order to avoid mistreatment. Although the Hispanics under arrest may
have linguistically understood they have the right to remain silent, they
do not fully comprehend that they have the right to refuse answering
without fear of retaliation..
Psicologo Inter-cultural Forense en los Procesos Judiciales de Hispanos
Acusados de Asesinatos y otros Crimenes Violentos"
The Forensic Cross-cultural
Psychologist in trials of Hispanics charged with murder and other violent
crimes : a Chapter of "Psicologia de la Conducta Criminal", Psychology
of Criminal Behavior, a book in publication in Bogota Colombia. This
chapter describes the author's techniques, product of his 25 years of
experience in the American Courts. Evaluations of defendants,
socio-cultural research, psychological autopsies, forensic reports, legal
consultations and court testimony are some of the subjects addressed in
addition to cultural factors, religious believes and mitigation factors.
La Violencia Juvenil. El Psicologo
Hispano en el Tribunal de Menores.
Juvenile Violence. The Hispanic
Psychologist in Juvenile Court. A chapter of " Psicologia de la Conducta
Criminal", a book in publication in Bogota, Colombia. This chapter deals
with the "hot" issue of the Hispanic juvenile violence: sociological
aspects and psychodynamic issues. Elaborates about predatory violence,
violence as entertainment , social violence, incidental violence, family
violence, sexual violence, female violence and pathological violence.
"False and Manipulated Confessions
Extracted From Criminal Hispanic Suspects"
(Article , Copyright 2000)
The author, during a recent review of the murder cases (200) he has worked
on over the years, became aware of how frequently Hispanic defendants are
manipulated into confessing, not only without the proper Miranda
admonition, but even in cases when the defendants actually did not commit
the murders. He also noticed that this is not limited to serious cases,
like murder or attempted murder. The article deals with a wide variety of
cases, showing the common tactics and techniques used against the Hispanic
The author also found that these forced and
manipulated confessions are obtained from mentally retarded subjects
without any ethical considerations as to the way the confessions were
extorted. The judges appear to be very reluctant to throw out confessions
of crimes, and this is particularly true in notorious and high-publicity
Psicologia Forense Aplicada
Following a frequent request of
lecture audiences and participants in his workshops on the subject, Dr.
LaCalle is preparing a Manual of Applied Forensic Psychology for graduate
students of Forensic Psychology in Latin America.
The Manual is being published in
collaboration and with the input of several Hispanic Psychologists in the
USA, Latin America and Spain. Its English version also will address
cross-cultural issues and specific information with application to the
American Court System.
Psychological Evaluations Through an Interpreter, Legal and Ethical
In California, as in most other
states, forensic psychological and psychiatric evaluations are performed
by professionals who do not speak the language of their clients. This
article explores legal and ethical issues of such practice. It also
addresses the problems related to the use of purportedly "qualified"
foreign language interpreters. In many instances, these interpreters are
simply not qualified. Office and janitorial help that happen to speak
Spanish are often used as interpreters . The interpreter might even be
related to the person being examined.
In evaluations through an
interpreter, one has to wonder who is the person being evaluated: the
client or the interpreter. Since the verbal expressions and the choice of
specific words can be extremely essential in any psychiatric and forensic
evaluation. It is not unusual for the translation under these
circumstances to convey the opposite message as the one intended.
Actual cases are provided and practical considerations and guidelines are
Offender Treatment and Family Therapy.
The author is of the opinion that
the psychodynamics involved in incest are quite different from the
psychodynamics of child molestation and pedophilia. In the opinion of the
author, incestuous behavior is by far more treatable than pedophilia. The
approach is to treat the "incestuous family" rather than focus the
attention only on the incest perpetrator. The recidivism rate of the
convicted incest perpetrator, especially if he or she has undergone
appropriate psychiatric treatment, is low.
Defendants on Sex Offense Charges. Primer for Expert Witness.
Many Hispanics find themselves
charged with a sex offense for behaviors that would not be considered
sexual offenses in their country of origin. Typical cases: public
urination (in the U.S., indecent exposure), having consensual sex with a
fully developed pubescent minor (in the U.S., statutory rape), patting the
derriere of a female passerby (in the U.S., sexual assault), to name a
few. Other such crimes by Hispanics might be secondary to poor impulse
control, or to an unconventional social environment (overcrowding in
small apartments with unrelated males and females sharing the otherwise
unaffordable rent). Socio-cultural investigations of the defendant's
background may show no criminal intent or unawareness of the criminality
of their actions.
The author has been retained over the last twenty-five years in many
criminal cases where the defendant was a juvenile Hispanic. In quite a
few of those cases, the charge was murder, and even first degree murder
with special circumstances. Some of those cases ended with a LWOP
sentence. This study will address the common issues of violence among the
Hispanic youth, and the response of US juries, frequently all white or
majority white, to these juvenile offenders. The distinctions will be
made between Mexican-American juveniles, Mexican national immigrants,
Central and Latin Americans.
In addition to the drug-related
murders and the gang-related crimes, the study addresses other issues such
as acculturation, family disintegration, racial discrimination,
educational deficits and socio-economic circumstances.
Child Molester: Pedophilia or Social Disease
This article addresses cultural
issues of child molestation by Hispanics. There are Hispanic pedophiles ,
but the experience of this Forensic Psychologist supports the statement
that many of the cases with Hispanic defendants that reach the US courts
are not that of fixated pedophiles, but of opportunistic child
molestation, secondary to social conditions and cultural value systems.
Several actual cases are studied in this paper.