Code of the District of Columbia

§ 16–2315. Physical and mental examinations.

(a)(1) At any time following the filing of a petition, on motion of the Corporation Counsel or counsel for the child, or on its own motion, the Division may order a child to be examined to aid in determining his physical or mental condition.

(2) An order for examination under this subsection shall include:

(A) A copy of the petition;

(B) The names and addresses of the attorney for the District of Columbia and the attorney for the respondent; and

(C) A summary of the reasons for the examination request.

(3) The court may issue such orders as may be necessary to procure any available mental health and educational records and other information that is deemed relevant for purposes of the examination.

(b)(1) Wherever possible a physical or mental health examination shall be conducted on an outpatient basis, but the Division may, if it deems necessary, order the child admitted as an inpatient to a suitable medical facility for the purpose of examination.

(2) The Division may order a child admitted as an inpatient to a suitable medical facility for the purpose of a mental health examination only after a psychiatrist or qualified psychologist examines the child and makes a written finding that the child is in need of a mental health examination which cannot be effectively provided on an outpatient basis. The written finding of the psychiatrist or qualified psychologist shall be a part of the Division’s order. These procedures for the inpatient mental health examination of a child shall not apply if the child is subject to the emergency hospitalization provisions of section 21-521.

(3)(A) Hospitalization for an examination shall be for a period of not more than 21 days, except that the Division may grant extensions which may not exceed 21 days in the aggregate if a psychiatrist or qualified psychologist certifies that a mental health examination has not been completed and cannot be effectively provided on an outpatient basis.

(B) If the examination is to determine whether the child is incompetent to proceed, an extension of time may not be granted unless the psychiatrist or qualified psychologist also certifies that the psychiatrist or qualified psychologist is unable to determine whether the child is incompetent to proceed and needs an additional period of time to complete the examination.

(b-1) A report of a mental health examination ordered under this section to determine whether a child is incompetent to proceed shall be made in writing and served on the court and the attorneys of record. The report shall include:

(1) An assessment of the child’s capacity to understand the proceedings against him, including the nature of the charges and range of potential options available to the court at disposition;

(2) An assessment of the child’s ability to assist his attorney; and

(3) If the report concludes the child is incompetent to proceed:

(A) The reasons and bases for the conclusion;

(B) The suspected cause of the incompetence;

(C) An assessment of the likelihood of the child attaining competence in the reasonably foreseeable future; and

(D) If the child is assessed to be likely to attain competence in the reasonably foreseeable future:

(i) Any recommended treatment and services that may render the child competent in the reasonably foreseeable future; and

(ii) A certification as to the least restrictive setting for providing such treatment and services.

(c)(1) If as a result of mental examination the Division determines that a child alleged to be delinquent is incompetent to proceed under the petition and is unlikely to attain competence in the reasonably foreseeable future, it shall suspend further proceedings and the Corporation Counsel shall, where appropriate, initiate commitment proceedings pursuant to Chapter 5 or 11 of Title 21.

(2)(A) If as a result of mental examination the Division determines that a child alleged to be delinquent is incompetent to proceed under the petition and is likely to attain competence in the reasonably foreseeable future, the Division shall order that the child receive such treatment on an outpatient basis, unless a psychiatrist or qualified psychologist certifies and the Division finds that inpatient hospitalization is the least restrictive setting for providing treatment and services that may render the child competent in the reasonably foreseeable future.

(B) If the Division determines that hospitalization is not appropriate, the child may be ordered into detention or shelter care if detention or shelter care would otherwise be warranted pursuant to section 16-2310 while receiving treatment and services that may render the child competent in the reasonably foreseeable future.

(3) If an order for inpatient hospitalization is made under paragraph (2) of this subsection, the Division may order the child sent to a hospital or mental health facility or unit designated by the Mayor as appropriate for treatment of juveniles alleged to be delinquent.

(4) If, at any time after the child is ordered to undergo treatment under paragraph (2) of this subsection, the psychiatrist or qualified psychologist responsible for the treatment believes the child is competent, or, in the case of a child hospitalized under paragraph (3) of this subsection, determines that inpatient hospitalization is no longer the least restrictive setting for providing treatment and services that may render the child competent, the psychiatrist or qualified psychologist shall immediately send a report to the Division and attorneys of record stating the basis for the conclusion that the child has attained competency or that inpatient hospitalization is no longer the least restrictive setting.

(5)(A) The Division shall hold a prompt hearing upon receipt of a report under paragraph (4) of this subsection, and no more than once in a 45-day period, the Division, on motion of the child or the Corporation Counsel, may hold a hearing to determine the child’s progress toward attaining competence.

(B) At any hearing conducted pursuant to this paragraph, the Division shall determine whether continued treatment and services are supported by a finding that the child is likely to attain competence in the reasonably foreseeable future. Where the psychiatrist or qualified psychologist has reported that inpatient hospitalization is no longer the least restrictive setting for providing treatment and services that may render the child competent, the Division shall order that any further treatment and services be rendered on an outpatient basis. In such case, the Division may order the child into detention or shelter care if detention or shelter care would otherwise be warranted pursuant to section 16-2310 while receiving continued treatment and services.

(6) The psychiatrist or qualified psychologist responsible for the treatment of the child shall ensure that a report is prepared and submitted to the Division and attorneys of record every 2 months, or at such shorter intervals as ordered by the court, from the date the treatment order is issued under paragraph (2) of this subsection. The report shall contain information regarding the child’s progress toward attaining competency, the treatment being provided, and any recommendations regarding changes to the treatment that would be likely to aid in achieving the goal of the order. If the child is hospitalized, the report shall also include a statement indicating whether inpatient hospitalization continues to be the least restrictive setting for providing treatment and services that may render the child competent in the reasonably foreseeable future.

(7)(A) No child ordered into a hospital, detention, or shelter care while receiving treatment and services under this section shall be so confined for more than 180 days, except the Division may order such confinement to continue for up to 180 more days if it finds that:

(i) The child remains incompetent to proceed;

(ii) There is a substantial probability the child will attain competence within the period of continued confinement; and

(iii) In the case of a hospitalized child, that inpatient hospitalization continues to be the least restrictive setting for providing treatment and services that may render the child competent to proceed.

(B) If at the end of 360 days a child so confined remains incompetent to proceed, and remains likely to attain competence in the reasonably foreseeable future, the Division shall lift the hospitalization, detention, or shelter care order and may order that the child receive on an outpatient basis such further treatment and services as may render the child competent in the reasonably foreseeable future.

(8) If the Division at any time determines that the child receiving treatment and services under this subsection is unlikely to attain competence in the reasonably foreseeable future, the Division shall suspend further proceedings and the Corporation Counsel shall, where appropriate, initiate commitment proceedings pursuant to Chapter 5 or 11 of Title 21.

(9) Nothing in this subsection shall prevent the Corporation Counsel from initiating commitment proceedings pursuant to Chapter 5 or 11 of Title 21 at any time.

(d) The results of an examination under this section shall be admissible in a transfer hearing pursuant to section 16-2307, in a dispositional hearing under this subchapter, or in a commitment proceeding under Chapter 5 or 11 of Title 21. The results of examination may be admitted into evidence at a factfinding hearing to aid the Division in determining a material allegation of the petition relating to the child’s mental or physical condition, but not for the purpose of establishing a defense of insanity.

(e)(1) At any time following the filing of a petition which alleges a neglected child as defined by D.C. Official Code, section 16-2301(9)(C) the Division may, on its own motion or the motion of any party, for good cause shown, order the mental or physical examination of the parent, guardian, or custodian of the child whose ability to care for the child is at issue.

(2) Following an adjudication that a child is neglected, the Division may, on its own motion or the motion of any party, order a mental or physical examination of the parent, guardian, or custodian of the child whose ability to care for the child is at issue.

(3) The Division may order additional mental examinations to be performed by independent experts upon a showing by any party that a prior examination is inadequate.

(4) The results of the mental or physical examination shall not be admissible evidence in the factfinding hearing unless the allegations contained in the petition set forth facts which support a petition pursuant to D.C. Official Code § 16-2301(9)(C).

(5) The results of the mental or physical examination shall be admissible at a dispositional hearing.

(6) The results of the mental or physical examination shall not be admissible as evidence in any criminal proceedings.

(f) Upon request of the Corporation Counsel, or his or her designee, the Division shall hold a hearing to determine whether there is probable cause to believe that a victim or eyewitness to a delinquent act alleged to have been committed by the respondent may have been put at risk for the HIV/AIDS virus. If the Division finds there is probable cause that a victim or eyewitness has been put at risk for the HIV/AIDS virus as a result of witnessing or being the victim of the delinquent act alleged to have been committed by the respondent, the Division shall order that the respondent be tested for the HIV/AIDS virus. The results of the child’s HIV/AIDS testing shall be presented to the Corporation Counsel, or his or her designee, who shall provide the information to the respondent and to the victim or eyewitness to a delinquent act. The victim or eyewitness may only disclose the respondent’s identity to a doctor or counselor.


(Dec. 23, 1963, 77 Stat. 591, Pub. L. 88-241, § 1; July 29, 1970, 84 Stat. 533, Pub. L. 91-358, title I, § 121(a); Sept. 23, 1977, D.C. Law 2-22, title IV, § 405, 24 DCR 3341; Mar. 5, 1981, D.C. Law 3-140, § 2, 3, 27 DCR 4558; Mar. 24, 1998, D.C. Law 12-81, § 10(bb), 45 DCR 745; Mar. 17, 2005, D.C. Law 15-261, §§ 202(c), 602(b), 52 DCR 1188.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 16-2315.

1973 Ed., § 16-2315.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 7-1231.14 and § 16-2321.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 15-261, in subsec. (a), designated the existing text as par. (1), and added pars. (2) and (3); in subsec. (b), substituted “psychiatrist or qualified psychologist” for “psychiatrist” in par. (2), and rewrote par. (3); added subsec. (b-1); rewrote subsec. (c); and added subsec. (f).