Code of the District of Columbia

§ 21–548. Request for revocation of outpatient status; confinement pending decision on revocation of outpatient status; hearing on outpatient revocation petition.

(a) A person who has been committed under section 21-545 or section 21-545.01 and is receiving outpatient treatment may be transferred to a more restrictive treatment setting, including inpatient hospitalization, or a facility certified for emergency observation and diagnosis, pursuant to a court order, after a hearing, upon the court finding, based upon clear and convincing evidence, that:

(1) The person who is committed has failed to comply with a material condition of his outpatient treatment and a more restrictive treatment alternative is required to prevent the person from injuring himself or others; or

(2) There has been a significant change in the mental illness of the person who is committed and a more restrictive treatment alternative is required to prevent the person from injuring himself or others.

(b)(1) If the Department, hospital, facility, or mental health provider providing treatment to a person committed under section 21-545 or section 21-545.01 determines that a committed person who is receiving outpatient treatment is, as a result of mental illness, likely to injure himself or others if he is not immediately detained, the chief clinical officer of the Department, or his designee, or the chief of service of a hospital, facility, or mental health provider, may take the committed person into custody and transfer the person to an inpatient hospital setting or a facility certified for emergency observation and diagnosis, or may request that an officer authorized to make arrests in the District of Columbia take the committed person into custody and transfer the person to an inpatient hospital setting or to a facility certified for emergency observation and diagnosis. If the committed person is hospitalized or detained at a facility not operated by the Department, the chief of service, or his designee, from that hospital or facility shall immediately notify the chief clinical officer for the Department of the admission by telephone.

(2) Within 24 hours of a committed person’s transfer from outpatient to inpatient treatment, the Department, the hospital, or the facility certified for emergency observation and diagnosis where the person is detained shall notify the court of:

(A) The committed person’s detention and provide the court with a detailed affidavit reciting the circumstances of the person’s transfer from outpatient status;

(B) The recent actions of the committed person that brought about the inpatient detention; and

(C) If known, whether the hospital, facility, or the Department has determined whether to seek a revocation of the committed person’s outpatient status for a period of more than 5 days.

(3) Within 24 hours of the committed person’s transfer to a more restrictive treatment setting, the hospital or facility shall give the committed person a copy of the notice and affidavit filed with the court as well as written notice of the person’s rights to release or to an adversarial judicial hearing. The hospital or facility shall notify the attorney of record of the committed person’s hospitalization or transfer to a facility certified for emergency observation and diagnosis and provide the attorney with a copy of the notice and affidavit filed with the court.

(4) The court shall conduct an ex parte review of the notice and affidavit within 24 hours of filing and determine whether the change from outpatient status to inpatient status at a hospital or facility certified for emergency observation and diagnosis is supported by probable cause that the committed person was likely to injure himself or other persons unless immediately hospitalized or transferred to a facility certified for emergency observation and diagnosis. If the court finds that the change in the treatment setting is supported by probable cause, the hospital may detain the committed patient for 5 days from the date of the order. If the court finds that the change in the treatment setting is not supported by probable cause, the court shall order the committed person’s immediate release from the hospital or facility certified for emergency observation and diagnosis. The court shall appoint counsel to represent the committed person if it is determined that the attorney of record is no longer available to represent the person about whom a notice of rehospitalization has been filed.

(5) The hospital or facility shall release the committed person at the end of 5 days from the date of the order, unless during that time the hospital, Department, or facility has filed a petition with the court to revoke outpatient treatment. The court shall schedule a hearing on the petition to revoke outpatient treatment within 21 days of the committed person’s hospitalization or detention. The court, for good cause, may continue the hearing. At the conclusion of the hearing, if the court finds that inpatient treatment at a hospital or facility certified for emergency observation and diagnosis is the least restrictive treatment alternative available and required to prevent the person from injuring himself or others as a result of mental illness, the hospital or facility may continue to detain the committed person for the remainder of the term of commitment. If the court finds that inpatient treatment at a hospital or facility certified for emergency observation and diagnosis is not supported, the court shall order the committed person’s immediate release and return to outpatient status.

(6) The criteria set forth in section 21-526 for determining when the maximum periods of time may be extended shall apply to this section.


(Sept. 14, 1965, 79 Stat. 757, Pub. L. 89-183, § 1; Apr. 4, 2003, D.C. Law 14-283, § 2(x), 50 DCR 917.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 21-548.

1973 Ed., § 21-548.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 21-526, § 21-561, and § 21-582.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 14-283 rewrote the section which had read as follows: “§ 21-548. Periodic examinations by hospital authorities; release.” “The chief of service of a public or private hospital shall, as often as practicable, but not less often than every six months, examine or cause to be examined each patient admitted to a hospital pursuant to this subchapter and if he determines on the basis of the examination that the conditions which justified the involuntary hospitalization of the patient no longer exist, the chief of service shall immediately release the patient.”

Emergency Legislation

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

§ 21-548. Request for revocation of outpatient status; confinement pending decision on revocation of outpatient status; hearing on outpatient revocation petition.

“(a) A person who has been committed under section 21-545 or section 21-545.01 and is receiving outpatient treatment may be transferred to a more restrictive treatment setting, including inpatient hospitalization, pursuant to a court order, after a hearing, upon the court finding, based upon clear and convincing evidence, that:

“(1) The person who is committed has failed to comply with a material condition of his outpatient treatment and a more restrictive treatment alternative is required to prevent the person from injuring himself or others; or

“(2) There has been a significant change in the mental illness of the person who is committed and a more restrictive treatment alternative is required to prevent the person from injuring himself or others.

“(b) If the Department, hospital, facility, or mental health provider providing treatment to a person committed under section 21-545 or section 21-545.01 determines that a committed person who is receiving outpatient treatment is, as a result of mental illness, likely to injure himself or others if he is not immediately detained, the chief clinical officer of the Department or his designee, or the chief of service of a hospital, facility, or mental health provider, may take the committed person into custody and transfer the person to an inpatient hospital setting. If the committed person is hospitalized at a facility not operated by the Department, the chief of service or his designee from that hospital shall immediately notify the chief clinical officer for the Department of the admission by telephone.

“(1) Within 24 hours of a committed person’s transfer from outpatient to inpatient treatment, the Department or the hospital where the person is detained shall notify the court of:

“(A) A committed person’s hospitalization and provide the court with a detailed affidavit reciting the circumstances of the person’s transfer to inpatient status;

“(B) The recent actions of the committed person that brought about the inpatient detention; and

“(C) If known, whether the hospital or the Department has determined whether to seek a revocation of the committed person’s outpatient status for a period of more than 5 days.

“(2) Within 24 hours of the committed person transfer to a more restrictive treatment setting, the hospital shall give the committed person a copy of the notice and affidavit filed with the court as well as written notice of the person’s rights to release or to an adversarial judicial hearing. The hospital shall notify the attorney of record of the committed person’s hospitalization or transfer to a more restrictive treatment setting and provide the attorney with a copy of the notice and affidavit filed with the court.

“(3) The court shall conduct an ex parte review of the notice and affidavit within 24 hours of filing and determine whether the change from outpatient status to inpatient status is supported by probable cause that the committed person was likely to injure himself or other persons unless immediately hospitalized or transferred to a more restrictive treatment setting. If the court finds that the change in the treatment setting is supported by probable cause, the hospital may detain the committed patient for 5 days from the date of the order. If the court finds that the change in the treatment setting is not supported by probable cause, the court shall order the committed person’s immediate release from the hospital. The court shall appoint counsel to represent the committed person if it is determined that the attorney of record is no longer available to represent the person about whom a notice of rehospitalization has been filed.

“(4) The hospital shall release the committed person at the end of 5 days of inpatient treatment, unless during that time the hospital has filed a petition with the court to revoke outpatient treatment. The court shall schedule a hearing on the petition to revoke outpatient treatment within 21 days of the committed person’s hospitalization. Upon the request of the committed person, the court, for good cause, may continue the hearing. At the conclusion of the hearing, if the court finds that inpatient treatment is the least restrictive treatment alternative available and required to prevent the person from injuring himself or others as a result of mental illness, the hospital may continue to detain the committed person for the remainder of the term of commitment. If the court finds that inpatient treatment is not supported, the court shall order the committed person’s immediate release and return to outpatient status.

“(5) The criteria set forth in section 21-526 for determining when the maximum periods of time may be extended shall apply to this section.”

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

References in Text

Section 21-545.01, referred to in subsec. (a), is enacted only upon enactment of certain legislation by the United States Congress.