Code of the District of Columbia

§ 7–1904. Investigations.

(a)(1) In accordance with this section and the rules to be issued by the Mayor pursuant to § 7-1909, the Department shall, except as provided in paragraph (2) of this subsection, either investigate each report received or refer a report for investigation to another public or private agency designated by the Mayor.

(2) The Department shall not be required to investigate a report that:

(A) Fails to allege facts that, if proved, would be sufficient to support the conclusion that the alleged victim is an “adult in need of protective services” as that term is defined in § 7-1901(2); or

(B) Is substantively repetitive of a previously reported incidence of abuse, neglect, or exploitation.

(3) If a report alleges the existence of an immediate, substantial risk of life-threatening harm to an adult in need of protective services, the Department shall immediately notify the police, who shall conduct a prompt investigation to determine the need for police intervention. In addition, within 24 hours of the Department’s receiving such a report, an APS worker shall commence an investigation to determine the need for protective services. These 2 investigations may be conducted either jointly or separately.

(4) For reports that allege an adult is in need of protective services but do not allege the existence of an immediate, substantial risk of life-threatening harm, an APS worker shall commence an investigation to determine the need for protective services within 10 days (excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays) of the Department’s receiving the report.

(5) In accordance with procedures to be established under § 7-1909(1), the Mayor shall ensure that, when appropriate, an APS worker is accompanied by a police officer while conducting an initial or follow-up investigation.

(b) Before entering a residence or otherwise approaching an adult who is allegedly in need of protective services, an APS worker conducting an investigation under this section shall first announce his or her purpose and, if accompanied by a police officer, the presence of that officer, and then secure the consents of the adult allegedly in need of protective services and any other adult who is present and appears to have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the residence or immediate premises. If the adult allegedly in need of protective services objects to the investigation and it does not manifestly appear to the APS worker that the objection is prompted by fear or intimidation instilled by another or that the adult is incapacitated, the investigation shall be terminated. If the objection manifestly appears prompted by fear or intimidation instilled by another, or if another person on the premises refuses to allow the investigation to take place, the Department may, either on its own behalf or, if the APS worker is employed by an agency other than the Department, on behalf of the other investigating agency, request the Attorney General to petition for an ex parte order pursuant to subsection (c) of this section. Where good cause exists to believe that a self-neglecting person is incapacitated, the APS worker, the Department, or the Attorney General may provide protective services pursuant to § 7-1905(c-1).

(c) If requested by the Department, the Attorney General shall promptly conduct a factual inquiry and, if legally supportable, file a petition in court for an ex parte order enjoining persons other than the adult who is allegedly in need of protective services from directly or indirectly interfering with the investigation. The petition shall allege specific facts, supported by oath or affirmation, showing that:

(1) There is probable cause to believe an adult located at a specified location is in need of protective services; and

(2) An APS worker conducting an investigation was denied reasonable access to the adult by a 3rd person, or, if the adult objected to the investigation, there is probable cause to believe the objection was prompted by fear or intimidation instilled by another.

(d) If the court finds that a proper showing has been made under subsection (c) (1) and (2) of this section, it shall enjoin the appropriate 3rd person(s) from interfering with an investigation under this section. The court may also order any other relief deemed necessary to facilitate an investigation, but in so doing it shall fully respect the right of an adult who is allegedly in need of protective services to freely object to and terminate that investigation.

(e) The scope of an investigation under this section shall be only that which is minimally necessary for an APS worker to determine whether an adult is in need of protective services, and, if so, what protective services are needed to remedy or substantially reduce the likelihood of abuse, neglect, self-neglect, or exploitation by others.


(Mar. 14, 1985, D.C. Law 5-156, § 5, 32 DCR 13; Mar. 8, 2006, D.C. Law 16-67, § 2(d), 53 DCR 40; Mar. 25, 2009, D.C. Law 17-353, § 102(a), 56 DCR 1117.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 6-2504.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 7-1905 and § 7-1909.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 16-67, in subsec. (b), substituted “another or that the adult is incapacitated, the investigation shall be terminated,” for “another, the investigation shall be terminated,” and “Attorney General to petition for an ex parte order pursuant to subsection (c) of this section. Where good cause exists to believe that a self-neglecting person is incapacitated, the APS worker, the Department, or the Attorney General may provide protective services pursuant to § 7-1905(c-1).” for “Corporation Counsel to petition for an ex parte order pursuant to subsection (c) of this section.”; in subsec. (c), substituted “Attorney General” for “Corporation Counsel”; and, in subsec. (e), substituted “neglect, self-neglect,” for “neglect,”.

D.C. Law 17-353 validated a previously made technical correction in subsec. (b).

Editor's Notes

Delayed application of Law 5-156: See Historical and Statutory Notes following § 7-1901.