Code of the District of Columbia

§ 21–541. Petition to Commission; copy to person affected.

(a) Proceedings for the judicial commitment of a person in the District of Columbia may be commenced by the filing of a petition with the Commission by his spouse, parent, or legal guardian, by a physician or a qualified psychologist, by a duly accredited officer or agent of the Department, by the Director of the Department or the Director’s designee, or by an officer authorized to make arrests in the District of Columbia. The petition shall be accompanied by:

(1) a certificate of a physician or qualified psychologist stating that he has examined the person and is of the opinion that the person is mentally ill, and because of the illness is likely to injure himself or other persons if not committed; or

(2) a sworn written statement by the petitioner that:

(A) the petitioner has good reason to believe that the person is mentally ill, and, because of the illness, is likely to injure himself or other persons if not committed; and

(B) the person has refused to submit to examination by a physician or qualified psychologist.

(b) Within three days after the Department receives a petition filed under subsection (a) of this section, the Department shall send a copy of the petition by registered mail to the person with respect to whom it was filed.


(Sept. 14, 1965, 79 Stat. 754, Pub. L. 89-183, § 1; Feb. 24, 1984, D.C. Law 5-48, § 11(a)(12), 30 DCR 5778; Apr. 30, 1988, D.C. Law 7-104, § 6(g), 35 DCR 147; Dec. 18, 2001, D.C. Law 14-56, § 116(g)(2), 48 DCR 7674; April 4, 2003, D.C. Law 14-283, § 2(p), 50 DCR 917; Mar. 13, 2004, D.C. Law 15-105, § 57, 51 DCR 881.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 21-541.

1973 Ed., § 21-541.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 7-1204.02, § 21-542, § 21-582, § 24-531.02, and § 24-531.07.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 14-56, in subsec. (a), substituted “Department of Mental Health” for “Department of Human Services”.

D.C. Law 14-283 rewrote the introductory paragraph of subsec. (a); in par. (1) of subsec. (a), substituted “not committed” for “allowed to remain at liberty”; and in par. (2)(A) of subsec. (a), substituted “not committed” for “allowed to remain at liberty”. Prior to amendment, the introductory paragraph of subsec. (a) had read as follows: “(a) Proceedings for the judicial hospitalization of a person in the District of Columbia may be commenced by the filing of a petition with the Department of Mental Health by his spouse, parent, or legal guardian, by a physician or a qualified psychologist, by a duly accredited officer or agent of the Department of Mental Health, or by an officer authorized to make arrests in the District of Columbia. The petition shall be accompanied by:”

D.C. Law 15-105 validated previously made technical corrections.

Cross References

Criminally insane persons, payment of hospital expenses, see § 24-501.

Information needed for civil commitment proceedings, see § 7-1204.02.

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 116(g)(2) 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 § 16(g)(2) 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)(2) 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 § 2(o) 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(o) 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(p) 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(p) 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)(2) of D.C. Law 14-51, in subsec. (a), substituted “Department of Mental Health” for “Department of Human Services”.

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(o) of D.C. Law 14-131, in subsec. (a), in the introductory language, substituted “commitment” for “hospitalization”; and in pars. (1) and (2)(A), substituted “not committed” for “allowed to remain at liberty”.

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