Forensic Psychiatry Specialist

Palo Alto Mind Body

Concierge Psychiatry & Ketamine Therapy Clinic located in Palo Alto, CA

Forensic psychiatry is a subspecialty of psychiatry dedicated to evaluating people for various legal purposes, from a defendant’s competency to stand trial to a client’s ability to enter into a binding contract. Sanaz Parsa, MD, at Palo Alto Mind Body has extensive experience in forensic psychiatry, including treating mental illness in a challenging incarcerated population at San Quentin State Prison. To schedule a consultation with Dr. Parsa, call the office in Palo Alto, California, or send a confidential email. We also serve many patients located in the surrounding Bay Area, such as South Bay, North Bay, East Bay, Peninsula, San Jose, and San Francisco.

Forensic Psychiatry Q & A

doctor's hands writing in notebook

What is forensic psychiatry?

Forensic psychiatry is where psychiatric care meets the criminal justice system. Forensic psychiatrists are fully trained psychiatrists — they’ve completed medical school and a psychiatry residency — and they’ve also completed a fellowship in forensic psychiatry.

As a forensic psychiatrist, Dr. Parsa, at Palo Alto Mind Body, has an in-depth understanding of criminal, civil, and case law as it pertains to people with mental health conditions.

What are the responsibilities of a forensic psychiatrist?

Although it’s not a forensic psychiatrist’s only responsibility, one of Dr. Parsa’s most important jobs is evaluating defendants for their:

Competency to stand trial

Dr. Parsa performs competency evaluations to determine whether a defendant has the mental capacity to understand the charges against them and to work with their attorney to mount a defense against those charges.

Danger to self or others

When a person is arrested, they may be evaluated to determine whether they pose a threat to themselves or other people. Dr. Parsa may also assess whether they should go to a psychiatric facility or jail.

Mental state

It’s essential for a forensic psychiatrist to determine whether the defendant understood what they were doing when they committed the crime. The outcome of their case may be determined by their intent to commit a crime and whether they truly grasp the nature of the crime.



Do forensic psychiatrists only work on criminal cases?

A forensic psychiatrist, also referred to as a criminal psychiatrist, performs many types of evaluations of other types of legal cases. They may determine whether a client was capable of entering into a binding contract or of writing a will.

In insurance disputes or workers’ compensation claims, forensic psychiatrists are asked to determine whether a person qualifies for disability or whether they’re healthy enough to return to work.

Dr. Parsa may determine whether a client is:

  • Liable for injuries sustained by another person in a motor vehicle accident
  • Capable of entering into a binding contract
  • Capable of writing a will
  • Healthy enough to return to work following a workers’ compensation claim
  • Qualified for disability income in an insurance dispute

After finishing an evaluation for any legal case, Dr. Parsa must be prepared to serve as an expert witness when called to testify in court.

What types of services are provided by a forensic psychiatrist?

In addition to evaluating a person’s competency to stand trial, a forensic psychiatrist specializes in:

  • Psychiatric disability evaluation
  • Independent medical evaluation
  • Evaluation of emotional distress
  • Violence risk assessment
  • Immigration evaluations
  • Testamentary capacity
  • Parental competency

If you have questions about forensic psychiatry or you need the help of a forensic psychiatrist, call Palo Alto Mind Body or send a confidential email. Please note, we also serve many patients located in the surrounding Bay Area, such as South Bay, North Bay, East Bay, Peninsula, San Jose, and San Francisco.