Psychiatrists are faced increasingly with the difficult responsibility of evaluating perpetrators and victims of violence. The following guidelines will help the clinician avoid legal difficulty: 1. Become knowledgeable about your state statutes regarding civil commitment and duty to third parties. 2. Document thoroughly your risk assessment and the factors you considered in reaching your judgment. 3. Consider obtaining a second opinion in difficult cases. 4. Follow hospital policies regarding seclusion, restraints, and emergency medication of the patient. 5. Adhere to mandatory reporting requirements for victims of abuse.