Code of the District of Columbia

§ 21–521. Detention of persons believed to be mentally ill; transportation and application to hospital.

An accredited officer or agent of the Department of Mental Health of the District of Columbia, or an officer authorized to make arrests in the District of Columbia, or a physician or qualified psychologist of the person in question, who has reason to believe that a person is mentally ill and, because of the illness, is likely to injure himself or others if he is not immediately detained may, without a warrant, take the person into custody, transport him to a public or private hospital, or to the Department, and make application for his admission thereto for purposes of emergency observation and diagnosis. The application shall reveal the circumstances under which the person was taken into custody and the reasons therefor.


(Sept. 14, 1965, 79 Stat. 753, Pub. L. 89-183, § 1; July 29, 1970, 84 Stat. 567, Pub. L. 91-358, title I, § 150(c)(2); Feb. 24, 1984, D.C. Law 5-48,§ 11(a)(8), 30 DCR 5778; Apr. 30, 1988, D.C. Law 7-104, § 6(f), 35 DCR 147; Dec. 18, 2001, D.C. Law 14-56, § 116(g)(1), 48 DCR 7674; Apr. 4, 2003, D.C. Law 14-283, § 2(h), 50 DCR 917.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 21-521.

1973 Ed., § 21-521.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 7-1203.03, § 16-2315, § 21-522, and § 21-582.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 14-56 substituted “Department of Mental Health” for “Department of Human Services”.

D.C. Law 14-283 added “, or to the Department” after “or private hospital”.

Cross References

Annulment of marriage, § 46-404.

Condemnation of insanitary buildings, appointment of guardian ad litem, see § 6-909.

Conservator, guardian in proceedings for appointment, see § 21-2041 et seq.

Emergency disclosure of mental health information, see § 7-1203.03.

Militia service exemption, see § 49-401.

Personal property schedule filing, persons under disability, see § 47-1601.

Physician or qualified psychologist related by blood or marriage to alleged mentally ill person, power to apply or certify mental status, see § 21-582.

Property of mentally ill persons, see § 21-2001 et seq.

Real estate leases, mentally ill person’s rights, see § 42-3222 et seq.

Redemption from tax sale, removal of disability, see § 47-1304.

Release of dower, see § 19-107a.

St. Elizabeths Hospital, commitment of mentally ill persons, see §§ 21-901 et seq., 44-901 et seq.

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 16(g)(1) of Department of Mental Health Establishment Emergency Amendment Act of 2001 (D.C. Act 14-55, May 2, 2001, 48 DCR 4390).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 16(g)(1) of Department of Mental Health Establishment Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2001 (D.C. Act 14-101, July 23, 2001, 48 DCR 7123).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 116(g)(1) of Mental Health Service Delivery Reform Congressional Review Emergency Act of 2001 (D.C. Act 14-144, October 23, 2001, 48 DCR 9947).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 2(g) of Mental Health Commitment Emergency Amendment Act of 2002 (D.C. Act 14-265, January 30, 2002, 49 DCR 1450).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 2(g) of Mental Health Commitment Congressional Review Emergency Act of 2002 (D.C. Act 14-350, April 24, 2002, 49 DCR 4417).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 2(h) of Mental Health Civil Commitment Emergency Act of 2002 (D.C. Act 14-546, December 12, 2002, 50 DCR 199).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 2(h) of Mental Health Civil Commitment Congressional Review Emergency Act of 2003 (D.C. Act 15-41, March 24, 2003, 50 DCR 2784).

Temporary Legislation

Section 16(g)(1) of D.C. Law 14-51 substituted “Department of Mental Health” for “Department of Human Services” in the first sentence.

Section 19(b) of D.C. Law 14-51 provided that the act shall expire after 225 days of its having taken effect.

Section 2(g) of D.C. Law 14-131, in the first sentence, added “, or to the Department,” following “or private hospital”.

Section 5(b) of D.C. Law 14-131 provided that the act shall expire after 225 days of its having taken effect.