Legal Information: District of Columbia

Confidentiality Laws

Updated: 
April 5, 2016

Confidentiality Laws

If you are the victim of "severe emotional abuse" or domestic violence (known as an "intrafamily offense") and you speak to a domestic violence counselor for counseling, support, or assistance, all of your communications must be kept confidential.  "Communications" include anything said during your conversations and  any records kept by the counselor/domestic violence program about you or the services provided to you.  The "domestic violence counselor" can be an employee or a trained volunteer - as long as s/he is part of a nonprofit, non-governmental organization that supports, counsels, and assists victims (including domestic violence hotlines, domestic violence shelters, and domestic violence intake centers).*

The counselor can only share the confidential information if:

  • You give written authorization (permission);
  • It is required by a law or by a court order;
  • The information is being shared with other employees at the domestic violence program or another service provider only if necessary to provide services to you;
  • You or someone else is at substantial risk of immediate and serious physical injury, the information can be shared with the Metropolitan Police Department or other law enforcement agency to the extent necessary to protect the person at risk;
  • The information is used for statistics or research but only without giving any personal identifying information (such as your name, Social Security number, etc.); or
  • If the information is relevant to defend against a lawsuit if you sue the domestic violence counselor or program.**

* D.C. Code § 14-310(a)
** D.C. Code § 14-310(b)