Program in Psychiatry and the Law

What is Forensic Psychiatry?

Forensic Psychiatry is a subspecialty of psychiatry that encompasses the interface between the law and psychiatry.  A forensic psychiatrist can provide evaluations for numerous legal purposes, including competency to stand trial and mental state opinion, among others.

The Program in Psychiatry and the Law at Stanford is comprised of a multidisciplinary team of world-class faculty who combine clinical experience and specialized knowledge and experience in medicine, mental health, and ethics.  We are able to work on queries related to mental health issues that arise in criminal or civil law, on an individual, corporate, or government level.

How does it work?

Our mission is to provide you with the highest level of ethical, comprehensive, unbiased, and evidence-based forensic assessments possible.  We embrace the core values of integrity, excellence, and professionalism in all of our cases. We review all pertinent information and apply clinical expertise to each unique case to ensure that we are providing the most objective psychiatric assessments and expert opinions.

We will work with you to ensure that all evaluations and/or assessments address clinical and forensic considerations. These typically occur in our Outpatient Clinic located at 401 Quarry Road.

Our Academic Faculty and Staff

Hans Steiner, M.D.
Professor Emeritus (Active), Director

Octavio Choi, M.D., Ph.D.
Clinical Associate Professor,
Director of Training

Whitney Daniels, M.D.
Clinical Assistant Professor, Assistant Director

Ana DiRago, Ph.D.
Clinical Instructor

Areas of Specialization

  • Addictions
  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
  • Competency Evaluations
  • Criminal Responsibility Evaluations
  • Dementia
  • Dissociative Disorders
  • Functional Neurological Disorders
  • Geriatric Mental Health
  • Mood Disorders
  • Neuroimaging
  • Neuropsychiatry
  • Neuropsychological Assessment
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Pain Assessment
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Psychopharmacology
  • Sleep Disorders
  • Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

Publications and Talks

Disruptive Behavior: Development, Psychopathology, Crime and Treatment

By Hans Steiner MD, Whitney Daniels MD, Christina Stadler PhD, and Michael Kelly MD

This psychiatric text describes the current methods of diagnosis and treatment for behavior problems, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Conduct Disorder, and special problems in delinquent populations.

To read more about the book in our endorsements, please click the arrows below:

  • One in seven children are diagnosed with a childhood disruptive behavior disorder and we are only now starting to realize the enormous social, financial and legal implications associated with these diagnoses. Professor Hans Steiner is one of the leading experts on childhood disruptive behavior disorders. In this highly readable book, he and his co-authors impressively and definitively cover the field. They provide comprehensive reviews of the historical emergence of the recognition that many individuals with atypically aggressive behavior show these problems because of a psychiatric condition as well as definitive chapters on the taxonomy, epidemiology, etiology, treatment and implications for the justice system. Each chapter is penetrating in its analysis and, critically, provides not only a context for the current problems in the specific area but also clear guidelines as to how these problems can be ameliorated. As such, this definitive work will serve as a pre-eminent guide for graduate students, clinicians and researchers interested in the area alike.
    Dr. R.J.R. Blair Director, Center of Neurobehavioral Research Boys Town National Research Hospital
    2017 Visiting Professor,
    Program in Psychiatry & The Law
    Stanford University, School, of Medicine


In an era of constraining resources for health care, very few health issues have the the potential to improve the lives of the children and families we treat and simultaneously reduce costs for the health, judicial and social welfare systems. This book stands apart from others in the field by laying out a pragmatic framework for addressing childhood aggression and disruptive behaviors. While clinicians and academics will find much insight in this book, many parents might likewise benefit from a nuanced view of the problems they face with their children. Aggression in childhood is normal, but unchecked it results in children with behavioral problems, families with stress, and societies with expensive jails and health care systems. Read this book and learn the way forward for us to change this trajectory.
Niranjan S. Karnik, MD, PhD | Cynthia Oudejans Harris Professor
Vice Chair for Innovation | Department of Psychiatry
Medical Director | Road Home Program: Center for Veterans & their Families
Director | Section of Population Behavioral Health | Department of Psychiatry
Rush University Medical Center | 1645 West Jackson Blvd., Suite 302, Chicago, IL 60612
Administrative Assistant:

Few constructs, if any, have led to similar plethora of research and debate across policy and practice as youth aggression, antisocial or disruptive behavior. The reasons are related to the high prevalence, complexity, comorbidity, heterogeneity and multi-factorial etiology; in parallel with the resulting impact, impairment, inter-agency involvement, and high service and societal costs. The literature stems for a range of scientific fields, which reflects children and youth’s multiple needs, hence appropriate interventions. The wider connotations of criminality and its causes often divide policy in the philosophy underpinning juvenile systems across the world.
The authors, with their strong track record and all-encompassing analytic, thoughtful and succinct writing style succeed in integrating the evidence behind such a complex topic. As implications for policy, service, practice and services from different sectors are best understood in their totality, this is the major contribution of this excellent text.
Panos Vostanis
Professor of Child Mental Health, University of Leicester
Visiting Professor, University College London
8th December 2016

Disruptive Behavior, by four Stanford University child and adolescent psychiatrists, is a treasure trove of useful information about these difficult conditions. A real plus is the engaging, first person writing style that holds the reader’s interest far more than most texts. As a forensic child and adolescent psychiatrist, I often see how serious disruptive behaviors can bring youth into contact with the juvenile justice system. This volume’s in-depth exploration of those behaviors will help the reader immensely in assessing delinquents’ needs for treatment, formulating clear treatment plans for youth both in and out of detention, and guiding towards much needed improvements in the systems of care for troubled youth. An extremely valuable resource!
Peter Ash, MD
Professor and Director, Psychiatry and Law Service,
Emory University

‘Disruptive Behavior: Development, Psychopathology, Crime and Treatment” by Steiner, Daniels, Kelly, and Stadler struck me, after having read so many of these books, apart from its up-to-dateness, by its positive and inspiring tone used while reviewing the literature, and by its stimulating, hope giving tone for practitioners. This textbook addresses therapeutic and services issues on a science based level, but so accessible that every professional will learn from it and will be able to apply it in daily assessment and treatment activities, in clinical settings but in forensic contexts as well. This superb book will certainly be the standard reference for the specialty for years to come! It provides excellent steps in right directions, like speaking of ‘DBD-spectrum disorders’. I would stress the importance of this textbook by citing this exemplary sentence: Fortunately, there is also evidence that early intervention with such high-CU children holds the promise of restoring their developmental progress, when using a multimodal treatment package with a high level of parental involvement, focused on the creation of a warm supportive parent child relationship which facilitates emotional learning.
Theo Doreleijers MD PhD
Em. prof. of child and adolescent psychiatry, VU Univ. medical centre, Amsterdam
Em. prof. of forensic psychiatry, Law Faculty, Leiden University
Honorary president of Europ. Assoc. for forensic ch&adol psychiatry and psychology EFCAP
Best VU University Teacher Award 2012
Societal Impact Research Award VU University 2010a
Arne Popma MD PhD, child and adolescent psychiatrist
Head of the dpt. of child and adolescent psychiatry, VU University medical centre Amsterdam
Prof. of forensic psychiatry, Law Faculty, Leiden University
Chairman of EFCAP Netherlands


What Neuroscience Can and Cannot Answer

Octavio S. Choi
Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law Online September 2017, 45 (3) 278-285

Can Neuroscience help us eradicate psychopathy?

Octavio Choi | TEDx
Dr. Choi digs into the psychopaths brain, literally. He examines how their brain reacts and thinks compared to an average brain, hoping that we do our part to guide the psychopaths to a better life. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at:

Contact us

To learn more about the Program or to speak with one of our experts please contact us.

Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Stanford University School of Medicine
Program in Psychiatry and the Law

Voicemail:     (650) 497-7676
Fax:                  (650) 724-9900