Code of the District of Columbia

§ 16–2305. Petition; contents; amendment.

(a) Complaints alleging delinquency or need of supervision shall be referred to the Director of Social Services, and complaints alleging neglect shall be referred to the Director of the Child and Family Services Agency, each of whom shall conduct a preliminary inquiry to determine whether the best interests of the child or the public require that a petition be filed. If judicial action appears warranted, under intake criteria established by rule of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, the Director of Social Services, or the Director of the Agency shall recommend that a petition be filed. If the Director of Social Services, in the case of a complaint alleging delinquency or need of supervision, decides not to recommend the filing of a petition, the complainant shall have a right to have that decision reviewed by the Corporation Counsel. The Director of Social Services, in the case of a complaint alleging delinquency or need of supervision, shall notify the complainant of such right of review. Complaints alleging neglect submitted by the Agency shall be referred directly to the Corporation Counsel of the District of Columbia.

(b) Petitions initiating judicial action may be signed by any person who has knowledge of the facts alleged or, being informed of them, believes they are true, except that petitions alleging need of supervision may only be signed by the Director of Social Services, a representative of a public agency or a nongovernmental agency licensed and authorized to care for children, a representative of a public or private agency providing social service for families, a school official, or a law enforcement officer. Petitions shall be verified and verification may be upon information or belief.

(c)(1) Each petition shall be prepared by the Corporation Counsel after an inquiry into the facts and a determination of the legal basis for the petition. If the Director of Social Services has refused to recommend the filing of a delinquency petition, or if the Director of the Agency has refused to recommend the filing of a neglect petition, the Corporation Counsel, on request of the complainant, shall review the facts presented and shall prepare and file a petition if he believes such action is necessary to protect the community or the interests of the child. Any decision of the Corporation Counsel on whether to file a petition shall be final.

(2) Where the delinquency petition filed by the Corporation Counsel is the 3rd petition filed against a child and the child is 13 years old or younger, the Child and Family Services Agency shall institute a child neglect investigation against the parent, guardian, or custodian of the child.

(d) A petition shall be filed by the Corporation Counsel within seven days (excluding Sundays and legal holidays) after the complaint has been referred to the Director of Social Services, except as otherwise provided in section 16-2312. A petition shall set forth plainly and concisely the facts which give the Division jurisdiction of the child under section 11-1101(13). In delinquency cases the petition shall also state the specific statute or ordinance on which the charge is based. If delinquency or need of supervision is alleged, a statement shall be included in the petition that the child appears to be in need of care or rehabilitation. The petition shall contain such other facts and information as may be required by rules of the Superior Court.

(e) A petition may be amended by leave of the Division on motion of the Corporation Counsel or counsel for the child, at any time prior to the conclusion of the factfinding hearing. The Division shall grant the Corporation Counsel, the child, and his parent, guardian, or custodian notice of the amendment and, where necessary, additional time to prepare.

(f) The District of Columbia shall be a party to all proceedings under this subchapter.


(Dec. 23, 1963, 77 Stat. 588, Pub. L. 88-241, § 1; July 29, 1970, 84 Stat. 526, Pub. L. 91-358, title I, § 121(a); Sept. 23, 1977, D.C. Law 2-22, title I, § 110(b), 24 DCR 3341; Mar. 24, 1998, D.C. Law 12-81, § 10(x), 45 DCR 745; Apr. 4, 2001, D.C. Law 13-277, § 3(a)(2), (3), 48 DCR 2043; Mar. 17, 2005, D.C. Law 15-261, § 1002(a), 52 DCR 1188.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 16-2305.

1973 Ed., § 16-2305.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 4-1301.09, § 16-2305.02, § 16-2333, § 16-2335, § 16-2335.02, and § 16-2384.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 13-277 rewrote subsec. (a) which formerly read:

“(a) Complaints alleging delinquency, need of supervision, or neglect shall be referred to the Director of Social Services who shall conduct a preliminary inquiry to determine whether the best interests of the child or the public require that a petition be filed. If judicial action appears warranted, under intake criteria established by rule of the Superior Court, the Director shall recommend that a petition be filed. If the Director decides not to recommend the filing of a petition, the complainant in a delinquency or neglect case shall have a right to have that decision reviewed by the Corporation Counsel, and the Director shall notify the complainant of such right of review. Complaints alleging neglect submitted by the Child Protective Services Division of the Department of Human Services shall be referred directly to the Corporation Counsel of the District of Columbia.”

and in subsec. (c) substituted “If the Director of Social Services has refused to recommend the filing of a delinquency petition, or if the Director of the Agency has refused to recommend the filing of a neglect petition” for “If the Director of Social Services has refused to recommend the filing of a delinquency or neglect petition” in the second sentence.

D.C. Law 15-261, in subsec. (c), designated the existing language as par. (1), and added par. (2).

Cross References

Substantiated reports, referral and social investigation, agency plan, report of investigation, see § 4-1301.09.