Code of the District of Columbia

§ 21–527. Examination and release of person; notice.

(a)(1) The chief clinical officer of the Department or the chief of service of a hospital in which a person is hospitalized under a court order entered pursuant to section 21-524 shall, within 48 hours after the order is entered, have the person examined by a psychiatrist or qualified psychologist.

(2) If the psychiatrist or qualified psychologist, after his examination, certifies that in his opinion the person is not mentally ill to the extent that the person is likely to injure himself or others if not presently detained, the person shall be immediately released.

(3) After the examination required under paragraph (1) of this subsection has been completed, the chief of service of the hospital:

(A) Shall immediately notify the chief clinical officer of the Department of the results of the examination by telephone, telefax, or other electronic means;

(B) Shall immediately send a copy of the results of the examination by mail to the Commission;

(C) Shall immediately send a copy of the results of the examination by mail to the parent or legal guardian of a person under 18 years of age who was committed; and

(D) Shall, within 48 hours, send a copy of the results by mail to the spouse or domestic partner, parents, attorney, legal guardian, or nearest known adult relative of the person examined, if authorized by the person who was examined consistent with the provisions of the District of Columbia Mental Health Information Act of 1978, effective March 3, 1979 (D.C. Law 2-136; D.C. Official Code § 7-1201.01 et seq.).

(b)(1) The chief clinical officer of the Department or the chief of service of a hospital in which a person is detained under a court order entered pursuant to section 21-524 or under section 21-526(c) shall immediately release the person from the emergency detention in a hospital if, at any time during the detention, a psychiatrist or qualified psychologist at the hospital or the Department certifies that, based on an examination, it is his opinion that the person is no longer mentally ill to the extent that the person is likely to injure himself or others if not presently detained or that the person could be treated in a less restrictive setting.

(2) After the examination required under paragraph (1) of this subsection has been completed, the chief of service of the hospital:

(A) Shall immediately notify the chief clinical officer of the Department of the results of the examination by telephone, telefax, or other electronic means;

(B) Shall immediately send a copy of the results of the examination by mail to the Commission;

(C) Shall immediately send a copy of the results of the examination by mail to the parent or legal guardian of a person under 18 years of age who was committed; and

(D) Shall, within 48 hours, send a copy of the results by mail to the spouse or domestic partner, parents, attorney, legal guardian, or nearest known adult relative of the person examined, if authorized by the person who was examined consistent with the provisions of the District of Columbia Mental Health Information Act of 1978, effective March 3, 1979 (D.C. Law 2-136; D.C. Official Code § 7-1201.01 et seq.).


(Sept. 14, 1965, 79 Stat. 754, Pub. L. 89-183, § 1; Feb. 24, 1984, D.C. Law 5-48, § 11(a)(11), 30 DCR 5778; Apr. 4, 2003, D.C. Law 14-283, § 2(m), 50 DCR 917; Sept. 12, 2008, D.C. Law 17-231, § 22(d), 55 DCR 6758.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 21-527.

1973 Ed., § 21-527.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 14-283 rewrote the section which had read as follows: “§ 21-527. Examination and release of person; notice.” “The chief of service of a hospital in which a person is hospitalized under a court order entered pursuant to section 21-524 shall, within 48 hours after the order is entered, have the person examined by a physician or qualified psychologist. If the physician or qualified psychologist, after his examination, certifies that in his opinion the person is not mentally ill to the extent that he is likely to injure himself or others if not presently detained, the person shall be immediately released. The chief of service shall, within 48 hours after the examination has been completed, send a copy of the results thereof by certified or registered mail to the spouse, parents, attorney, legal guardian, or nearest known adult relative of the person examined.”

D.C. Law 17-231 substituted “spouse or domestic partner” for “spouse”.

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 2(l) 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(l) 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(m) 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(m) 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 2(l) of D.C. Law 14-131 amended this section to read as follows:

“(a) The chief clinical officer of the Department or the chief of service of a hospital in which a person is hospitalized under a court order entered pursuant to section 21-524 shall, within 48 hours after the order is entered, have the person examined by a psychiatrist or qualified psychologist. If the psychiatrist or qualified psychologist, after his examination, certifies that in his opinion the person is not mentally ill to the extent that the person is likely to injure himself or others if not presently detained, the person shall be immediately released. The chief of service shall immediately notify the chief clinical officer of the Department of the results of the examination by telephone, telefax, or other electronic means and shall, within 48 hours after the examination has been completed, send a copy of the results by mail to the spouse, parents, attorney, legal guardian, or nearest known adult relative of the person examined, if authorized by the person who is hospitalized consistent with the provisions of the District of Columbia Mental Health Act of 1978, effective March 3, 1979 (D.C. Law 2-136; D.C. Official Code § 7-1201.01 et seq.).

“(b) The chief clinical officer of the Department or the chief of service of a hospital in which a person is detained under a court order entered pursuant to section 21-524 or under section 21-526(c) shall immediately release the person from the emergency detention in a hospital if, at any time during the detention, a psychiatrist or psychologist at the hospital or the Department certifies that, based on an examination, it is his opinion that the person is no longer mentally ill to the extent that the person is likely to injure himself or others if not presently detained or that the person could be treated in a less restrictive setting. The chief of service shall immediately notify the chief clinical officer of the Department of the results of the examination by telephone, telefax, or other electronic means and shall, within 48 hours after the examination has been completed, send a copy of the results by mail to the spouse, parents, attorney, legal guardian, or nearest known adult relative of the person examined, if authorized by the person who was examined consistent with the provisions of the District of Columbia Mental Health Act of 1978, effective March 3, 1979 (D.C. Law 2-136; D.C. Official Code § 7-1201.01 et seq.).”

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