Code of the District of Columbia

§ 16–2317. Hearings, findings; dismissal.

(a) Except as otherwise provided by statute or court rule, all motions shall be heard at the time of the factfinding hearing.

(b) After a factfinding hearing on the allegations in the petition, the Division shall make and file written findings in all cases as to the truth of the allegations, and in neglect cases, he shall also make and file written findings as to whether the child is neglected. The Court may not make a finding of neglect based solely on a finding that a child is born addicted or dependent on a controlled substance or has a significant presence of a controlled substance in his or her system at birth. If the Division finds that —

(1) in the case of a delinquency petition, that the allegations have not been established by proof beyond a reasonable doubt; or

(2) in the case of a need of supervision or neglect petition, that the allegations have not been established by the preponderance of the evidence,

the Division shall dismiss the petition and order the child released from any detention or shelter care or other restriction previously ordered. If the proceedings are not terminated after the factfinding hearing, the Division shall review the need for detention or shelter care of the child.

(c) If the Division finds in a factfinding hearing that —

(1) the allegations in a delinquency petition have been established by proof beyond a reasonable doubt; or

(2) the allegations in a need of supervision or neglect petition have been established by the preponderance of the evidence,

the Division, after giving the notice required by subsection (e) of this section, shall proceed to hold a dispositional hearing. The Division may postpone a dispositional hearing to await the predisposition study and report of the Director of Social Services (in delinquency or need of supervision cases) or of the Director of the Child and Family Services Agency (in neglect cases) as required by section 16-2319 . There shall be a rebuttable presumption that a finding of the commission of an act which would constitute a criminal offense if committed by an adult is sufficient to sustain a finding of need for care or rehabilitation in delinquency and need of supervision cases.

(d)(1) If the Division finds that the child is not in need of care and rehabilitation, it shall terminate the proceedings and discharge the child from detention, shelter care, or other restriction previously ordered.

(2) Determinations of whether a child is in need of care or rehabilitation may only be made at or after the dispositional hearing, except that the Division may dismiss the petition and terminate proceedings, after giving the Corporation Counsel a reasonable opportunity to initiate commitment proceedings pursuant to Chapter 5 or 11 of Title 21, if the Division finds that the respondent is incompetent to proceed and that there is not a substantial probability that the respondent will attain competency in the reasonably foreseeable future. If the Division dismisses the petition based on the respondent’s incompetence to proceed, the dismissal shall be without prejudice to the government to refile if the respondent attains competence.

(3) To overcome the presumption of a need for care or rehabilitation in subsection (c) of this section, the Division must find by clear and convincing evidence at the dispositional hearing that the child is not in need of care or rehabilitation before it may terminate proceedings.

(4) The fact that a child is receiving care or rehabilitation in another case shall not be the only grounds for dismissal.

(5) In determining whether a child is in need of care and rehabilitation, the Division may consider the child’s failure to appear at a scheduled hearing and shall:

(A) Consider any victim impact statement submitted to the Division;

(B) Hear from any eyewitnesses and victims, or the immediate family members of any eyewitnesses or victims when the eyewitness or victim is a child or when the eyewitness or victim is deceased or incapacitated, that wish to be heard and appear before the court; and

(C) Consider if the dismissal of the case is in the interest of the public welfare and the protection of the public security.

(e) The Division shall give prompt notice of any dispositional hearing as follows:

(1) In delinquency and need of supervision cases, to the child, his spouse (if any), and his parent, guardian, or custodian.

(2) In neglect cases, to the child and to the parent, guardian, or custodian named in the petition if he can be found.

(f) The Corporation Counsel shall give prompt notice, if practicable, of any disposition and post-disposition hearings to the victim, or the immediate family members or caretakers of the victim, or their duly authorized attorney, when the victim is a child or when the victim is deceased or incapacitated.


(July 29, 1970, 84 Stat. 534, Pub. L. 91-358, title I, § 121(a); Feb. 5, 1994, D.C. Law 10-68, § 20(e), 40 DCR 6311; Apr. 4, 2001, D.C. Law 13-277, § 3(a)(6), 48 DCR 2043; Oct. 19, 2002, D.C. Law 14-206, § 3(b), 49 DCR 7815; Mar. 17, 2005, D.C. Law 15-261, §§ 502(b), 602(d), 52 DCR 1188; Apr. 24, 2007, D.C. Law 16-306, § 206(b), 53 DCR 8610.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 16-2317.

1973 Ed., § 16-2317.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 2-1515.01, § 7-2101, § 16-2319, § 16-2320, § 16-2383, and § 16-2399.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 13-277, in subsec. (c)(2), added “(in delinquency or need of supervision cases) or of the Director of the Child and Family Services Agency (in neglect cases) as” following “Director of Social Services”.

D.C. Law 14-206, in subsec. (b), inserted “The Court may not make a finding of neglect based solely on a finding that a child is born addicted or dependent on a controlled substance or has a significant presence of a controlled substance in his or her system at birth.”

D.C. Law 15-261, in subsec. (c)(2), substituted “There shall be a rebuttable presumption that a finding of the commission of an act which would constitute a criminal offense if committed by an adult is sufficient to sustain a finding of need for care or rehabilitation in delinquency and need of supervision cases.” for “In the absence of evidence to the contrary, a finding of the commission of an act which would constitute a criminal offense if committed by an adult is sufficient to sustain a finding of need for care or rehabilitation in delinquency and need of supervision cases.”; rewrote subsec. (d); and added subsec. (f). Prior to amendment, subsec. (d) read as follows: “(d) If the Division finds that the child is not in need of care or rehabilitation it shall terminate the proceedings and discharge the child from detention, shelter care, or other restriction previously ordered.”

D.C. Law 16-306, in subsec. (d)(5), substituted “Division may consider the child’s failure to appear at a scheduled hearing and shall” for “Division shall”.

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 2(b), (c), of the Juvenile Justice Emergency Act of 2004 (D.C. Act 15-497, July 19, 2004, 51 DCR 7844).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 2(b), (c) of Juvenile Justice Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2004 (D.C. Act 15-547, October 12, 2004, 51 DCR 9844).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 2(b), (c) of Juvenile Justice Second Congressional Review Emergency Act of 2004 (D.C. Act 15-727, January 19, 2005, 52 DCR 1952).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 206(b) of Omnibus Public Safety Emergency Amendment Act of 2006 (D.C. Act 16-445, July 19, 2006, 53 DCR 6443).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 206(b) of Omnibus Public Safety Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2006 (D.C. Act 16-490, October 18, 2006, 53 DCR 8686).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 206(b) of Omnibus Public Safety Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2007 (D.C. Act 17-10, January 16, 2007, 54 DCR 1479).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 206(b) of Omnibus Public Safety Second Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2007 (D.C. Act 17-25, April 19, 2007, 54 DCR 4036).

Temporary Legislation

For temporary (225 day) amendment of section, see § 2(b), (c) of the Juvenile Justice Temporary Act of 2004 (D.C. Law 15-223, March 16, 2005, law notification 52 DCR 3549).