Code of the District of Columbia

§ 5–1405. Deaths — determinations and investigations; cremations.

(a) The CME, other medical examiners, and medicolegal investigators (physician assistants or advanced practice registered nurses) licensed under subchapter V of Chapter 12 of Title 3, are authorized to make determinations of death.

(b) Pursuant to regulations established by the Mayor, the following types of human deaths occurring in the District of Columbia shall be investigated by the OCME:

(1) Violent deaths, whether apparently homicidal, suicidal or accidental including deaths due to thermal, chemical, electrical or radiation injury and deaths due to criminal abortion, whether apparently self-induced or not;

(2) Sudden, unexpected or unexplained deaths not caused by readily recognizable disease, including sudden infant deaths or apparent sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) for infants one year of age and younger;

(3) Deaths under suspicious circumstances;

(4) Deaths of persons whose bodies are to be cremated, dissected, buried at sea or otherwise disposed of so as to be thereafter unavailable for examination;

(5) Deaths related to disease resulting from employment or on-the-job injury or illness;

(6) Deaths related to disease which might constitute a threat to public health;

(7) Deaths of persons who are wards of the District of Columbia government;

(8) Deaths related to medical or surgical intervention, including operative, peri-operative, anesthesia, medication reactions or deaths associated with diagnostic or therapeutic procedures;

(9) Deaths of persons while in legal custody of the District;

(10) Fetal deaths related to maternal trauma including substance abuse, and extra-mural deliveries;

(11) Deaths for which the Metropolitan Police Department, or other law enforcement agency, or the United States Attorney’s Office requests, or a court orders investigation; and

(12) Dead bodies brought within the District of Columbia without proper medical certification.

(c) Clearances by the CME shall be required for all deaths occurring in the District of Columbia for which cremations are requested regardless of where the cremation will occur.

(d) The Mayor shall, by regulation, prescribe procedures for taking possession of a dead body following a death subject to investigation under subsection (b) of this section and for obtaining all essential facts concerning the medical causes of death and the names and addresses of as many witnesses as it is practicable to obtain.


(Oct. 19, 2000, D.C. Law 13-172, § 2906, 47 DCR 6308; Oct. 3, 2001, D.C. Law 14-28, § 4619(b), 48 DCR 6981.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 11-2304.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 5-1406 and § 5-1408.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 14-28, in subsec. (b)(2), inserted “for infants one year of age and younger” before the semicolon.

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 day) addition of section, see § 2906 of the Fiscal Year 2001 Budget Support Congressional Review Emergency Act of 2000 (D.C. Act 13-438, October 20, 2000, 47 DCR 8740).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 19(b) of Child Fatality Review Committee Establishment Emergency Act of 2001 (D.C. Act 14-40, April 25, 2001, 48 DCR 5917).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 19(b) of Child Fatality Review Committee Establishment Legislative Review Emergency Act of 2001 (D.C. Act 14-82, July 9, 2001, 48 DCR 6355).

Temporary Legislation

For temporary (225 day) amendment of section, see § 19(b) of Child Fatality Review Committee Establishment Temporary Act of 2001 (D.C. Law 14-20, September 6, 2001, law notification 48 DCR 9090).

Delegation of Authority

Delegation of Authority Pursuant to Title XXIX of D.C. Law 13-172, the “Fiscal Year 2001 Budget Support Act of 2000” Creating the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, see Mayor’s Order 2001-04, January 5, 2001 ( 48 DCR 938).