Code of the District of Columbia

§ 16–2310. Criteria for detaining children.

*NOTE: This section includes amendments by temporary legislation that will expire on August 29, 2024. To view the text of this section after the expiration of all emergency and temporary legislation affecting this section, click this link: Permanent Version.*

(a) A child shall not be placed in detention prior to a factfinding hearing or a dispositional hearing unless he is alleged to be delinquent and unless it appears from available information that detention is required —

(1) to protect the person or property of others from significant harm, or

(2) to secure the child’s presence at the next court hearing.

(a-1)(1) There shall be a rebuttable presumption that detention is required to protect the person or property of others if the judicial officer finds by a substantial probability that the child:

(A) Committed:

(i) A dangerous crime or a crime of violence while armed with or having readily available a knife, pistol, firearm, or imitation firearm; or

(ii) Unarmed murder, first-degree sexual abuse, carjacking, or assault with intent to commit any such offense; or

(B) Committed CPWL, carrying a pistol without a license.

(2) For the purposes of this subsection, the terms “dangerous crime” and “crime of violence” shall have the same meanings as provided in section 23-1331, except that these terms shall not include:

(A) Any felony offense under Chapter 27 of Title 22 (Prostitution, Pandering);

(B) Any felony offense under Chapter 9 of Title 48 (Controlled Substances);

(C) Burglary; or

(D) Arson.

(b) A child shall not be placed in shelter care prior to a factfinding hearing or a dispositional hearing unless it appears from available information that shelter care is required —

(1) to protect the person of the child, or

(2) because the child has no parent, guardian, custodian, or other person or agency able to provide supervision and care for him, and the child appears unable to care for himself and that

(3) no alternative resources or arrangements are available to the family that would adequately safeguard the child without requiring removal.

(c) The criteria for detention and shelter care provided in this section, as implemented by rules of the Superior Court, shall govern the decisions of all persons responsible for determining whether detention or shelter care is warranted prior to the factfinding hearing.

(d) Whenever a child has been placed in shelter care, the child’s parent, guardian or custodian shall be permitted visitation at least weekly unless it appears to the judge that such visitation rights would create an imminent danger to or be detrimental to the well-being of the child, in which case, the judge shall either prescribe a schedule of visitation rights or order that visitation rights not be allowed.

(e) Fact finding hearings for children ordered into secure detention or ordered into shelter care shall be held within the time limits provided in this subsection.

(1)(A) Except as provided in subparagraph (B) of this paragraph and paragraph (2) of this subsection, whenever a child has been ordered into secure detention before a factfinding hearing pursuant to §§ 16-2310 through 16-2313, the factfinding hearing set forth in § 16-2316 shall commence not later than 30 days from the date at which the Family Court ordered the child to be detained pursuant to § 16-2312.

(B) Except as provided in paragraph (2) of this subsection, whenever a child is charged with murder, assault with intent to kill, first degree sexual abuse, burglary in the first degree, or robbery while armed, and the child has been ordered into secure detention before a factfinding hearing pursuant to §§ 16-2310 through 16-2313, the factfinding hearing set forth in § 16-2316 shall commence not later than 45 days from the date at which the Family Court ordered the child to be detained pursuant to § 16-2312.

(C) Except as provided in paragraph (2) of this subsection, whenever a child has been ordered into shelter care before a factfinding hearing pursuant to §§ 16-2310 through 16-2313, the factfinding hearing set forth in § 16-2316 shall commence not later than 45 days from the date at which the Family Court ordered the child to be placed in shelter care pursuant to § 16-2312.

(2)(A) Except as provided in subparagraphs (B) and (C) of this paragraph, upon motion of the Attorney General, for good cause shown, the factfinding hearing of a child ordered into secure detention or a child who is ordered into shelter care may be continued, and the child continued in secure detention or shelter care, for only one additional period, not to exceed 30 days.

(B) Upon motion of the Attorney General, for good cause shown, the factfinding hearing may be continued, and the child continued in secure detention or shelter care, for additional periods not to exceed 30 days each, if:

(i) The child is charged with murder, assault with intent to kill, or first degree sexual abuse;

(ii) The child is charged with a crime of violence, as defined in § 23-1331(4), committed while using a pistol, firearm, or imitation firearm; or

(iii) Despite the exercise of due diligence by the District and the federal agency, DNA evidence, analysis of controlled substances, or other evidence processed by federal agencies has not been completed.

(C)(i) Upon a motion by or on behalf of the child consistent with the rules of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, the factfinding hearing of a child ordered into secure detention or a child who is ordered into shelter care may be continued for additional periods not to exceed 30 days each.

(ii) A motion made under sub-subparagraph (i) of this subparagraph shall not be construed as a waiver of the child’s speedy trial rights under this section nor under the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution.

(D) Additional continuances of the factfinding hearing may be granted to the Office of Attorney General if the child is no longer in either secure detention or shelter care.

(3) In determining whether good cause has been shown as required by paragraph (2) of this subsection, the Division shall take into account, among other appropriate matters, and shall state its findings on the record, as to whether:

(A) There has been or will be a delay resulting from other proceedings concerning the child, including, but not limited to, examinations to determine the mental competency or physical capacity of the child; from a hearing with respect to other charges against the child; from any interlocutory or expedited appeal; from the making, or consideration by the Division, of any pretrial motions; and from any proceeding relating to the transfer of the child pursuant to § 16-2307;

(B) Any essential witness is absent or unavailable. For purposes of this subparagraph, an essential witness shall be considered absent when his or her whereabouts are unknown or cannot be determined by due diligence and shall be considered unavailable when his or her presence for the hearing cannot be obtained by due diligence;

(C) Despite the exercise of due diligence, necessary autopsies, medical examinations, fingerprint examinations, ballistic tests, drug analysis, or other scientific tests have not been completed; or

(D) The ends of justice served by continuing the period of detention outweigh the interests of the child and public in a speedy trial.

(4) Upon motion by or on behalf of the child, a child in secure detention or shelter care shall be released from custody or shelter care if the fact finding hearing is not commenced within the time period set forth in this subsection.

(f) No provision of this section shall be construed as a bar to any claim of denial of speedy trial as required by the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution.