Code of the District of Columbia

§ 16–2316. Conduct of hearings; evidence.

(a) The Division shall, without a jury, hear and adjudicate cases involving delinquency, need of supervision, or neglect. The Corporation Counsel shall present evidence in support of all petitions arising under this subchapter and otherwise represent the District of Columbia in all proceedings.

(b) Evidence which is competent, material, and relevant shall be admissible at factfinding hearings. Evidence which is material and relevant shall be admissible at detention hearings, transfer hearings under section 16-2307, and dispositional hearings.

(c) Where the petition alleges a child is a neglected child by reason of abuse, evidence of illness or injury to a child who was in the custody of his or her parent, guardian, or custodian for which the parent, guardian or custodian can give no satisfactory explanation shall be sufficient to justify an inference of neglect.

(d)(1) Where the petition alleges a child is abandoned as referred to in section 16-2301(9)(A), as amended by this act, the following evidence shall be sufficient to justify an inference of neglect:

(A) the child is a foundling whose parents have made no effort to maintain a parental relationship with the child and reasonable efforts have been made to identify the child and to locate the parents for a period of at least four (4) weeks since the child was found;

(B) the child’s parent gave a false identity at the time of the child’s birth, since then has made no effort to maintain a parental relationship with the child and reasonable efforts have been made to locate the parent for a period of at least four (4) weeks since his or her disappearance;

(C) the child’s parent, guardian or custodian is known but has abandoned the child in that he or she has made no reasonable effort to maintain a parental relationship with the child for a period of at least four (4) months; or

(D) the child has resided in a hospital located in the District of Columbia for at least 10 calendar days following the birth of the child, despite a medical determination that the child was ready for discharge from the hospital, and the parent, guardian, or custodian of the child did not undertake any action or make any effort to maintain a parental, guardianship, or custodial relationship or contact with the child.

(2) It shall not be necessary to prove that the parent, guardian or custodian intended to abandon the child or that he or she is now dead. However, if the judge is satisfied that there was a satisfactory explanation for the abandonment he or she need not enter a finding of neglect.

(e)(1) All hearings and proceedings under this subchapter shall be recorded by appropriate means.

(2) Except in hearings to declare an adult in contempt of court, the general public shall be excluded from hearings arising under this subchapter.

(3) Except as provided in paragraph (4) of this subsection, only persons necessary to the proceedings shall be admitted, but the Division may, pursuant to rule of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, admit such other persons (including members of the press) as have a proper interest in the case or the work of the court on condition that they refrain from divulging information identifying the child or members of the child’s family involved in the proceedings.

(4) In cases involving delinquency proceedings, the victims and eyewitnesses and the immediate family members and custodians of the victims and eyewitnesses shall have a right to attend transfer, factfinding, disposition, and post-disposition hearings, subject to the rule on witnesses. Immediate family members and custodians of the victims and eyewitnesses shall have a right to be present during the victims’ or eyewitnesses’ testimony.

(5) Any person who by virtue of this subsection attends a transfer, factfinding, disposition, or post-disposition hearing shall be bound by the confidentiality requirements of sections 16-2331, 16-2332, and 16-2333, and shall be informed by the Division of these confidentiality requirements and the penalties for their violation as set out in section 16-2336.

(f) If the Division finds that it is in the best interest of the child, it may temporarily exclude him from any proceeding except a factfinding hearing. If the petition alleges neglect, the child may also be temporarily excluded from a factfinding hearing. In any case, counsel for the child may not be excluded.


(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 I, § 110(e), 24 DCR 3341; Apr. 30, 1988, D.C. Law 7-104, § 4(o), 35 DCR 147; June 8, 1990, D.C. Law 8-134, § 2(c), 37 DCR 2613; Feb. 5, 1994, D.C. Law 10-68, § 20(d), 40 DCR 6311; Mar. 13, 2004, D.C. Law 15-105,§§ 10(c), 34(a), 56, 51 DCR 881; Mar. 17, 2005, D.C. Law 15-261, § 602(c), 52 DCR 1188.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 16-2316.

1973 Ed., § 16-2316.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 16-2301 and § 16-2310.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 15-105, in subsec. (d), (d)(1), (d)(1)(D), validated a previously made technical correction.

D.C. Law 15-261 rewrote subsec. (e) which had read:

“(e) All hearings and proceedings under this subchapter shall be recorded by appropriate means. Except in hearings to declare a person in contempt of court, the general public shall be excluded from hearings arising under this subchapter. Only persons necessary to the proceedings shall be admitted, but the Division may, pursuant to rule of the Superior Court, admit such other persons (including members of the press) as have a proper interest in the case or the work of the court on condition that they refrain from divulging information identifying the child or members of his family involved in the proceedings.”

References in Text

“This act,” referred to in the introductory paragraph of subsection (d)(1), is the Act of September 23, 1977, D.C. Law 2-22 which is codified as § 4-1321.01 et seq., § 4-1301.02 et seq., and § 16-2301 et seq.