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Study shows traumatic brain injury increases risk of violent crime

A new study has recently been published that indicates people who have suffered traumatic brain injuries or certain forms of epilepsy are more likely to commit certain types of crimes than the general populous. While some people may consider this information beneficial for monitoring individuals or investigating apparent criminal activity, police may start to use suspects' medical histories against them when investigating violent crimes.

Everyone in Maryland's medical records are private and police need to have a good reason and proper authority to look into someone's medical files. Even if police are able to access someone's files, just because a suspect had an unfortunate traumatic brain injury should not be used against him in a criminal investigation or trial. With research that claims to link certain types of violent crimes to certain types of brain injuries, police and juries may be more apt to arrest or convict someone of a violent crime without otherwise sufficient evidence.

The study purportedly shows that people with head injuries were approximately three times more likely to commit a violent crime than someone from the general population. The Swedish and British scientists who conducted the study apparently tracked 22,000 people with epilepsy and traumatic brain injuries and only 10 people without any type of injury over a 36-year period, recording how many people were convicted of violent crimes.

The scientists included sexual offences, assault, robbery, murder, arson, and illegal threats or intimidation within the definition of "violent crimes."

In order to be convicted of a crime, prosecutors must show sufficient evidence that a suspect committed the crime. Just using or relying heavily on a medical diagnosis of a brain injury would be unacceptable in convicting someone of a very serious crime.

Source: The Press Association, "Head injury 'link' to violent crime," Dec. 30, 2011

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