Legal Information: District of Columbia

Statutes: District of Columbia

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April 1, 2022

§ 14-310. Domestic violence counselors.

(a) For the purposes of this section, the term:

(1) “Confidential communication” means information exchanged between a victim and a domestic violence counselor during the course of the counselor providing counseling, support, and assistance to a victim, including all records kept by the counselor and the domestic violence program concerning the victim and services provided to the victim.

(2) “Domestic violence counselor” means an employee, contractor, or volunteer of a domestic violence program who:

(A) Is rendering support, counseling, or assistance to a victim;

(B) Has undergone not less than 40 hours of domestic violence counselor training conducted by a domestic violence program that includes dynamics of domestic violence, trauma resulting from domestic violence, crisis intervention, personal safety, risk management, criminal and civil court processes, and resources available to victims; and

(C)(i) Is or is under the supervision of a licensed social worker, nurse, physician, psychologist, or psychotherapist; or

(ii) Is or is under the supervision of a person who has a minimum of 5 years of experience rendering support, counseling, or assistance to persons against whom severe emotional abuse or a criminal offense has been committed or is alleged to have been committed, of which at least 2 years of experience involves victims.

(3) “Domestic violence program” means a nonprofit, non-governmental organization that supports, counsels, and assists victims, including domestic violence hotlines, domestic violence shelters, and domestic violence intake centers.

(4) “Intrafamily offense” shall have the same meaning as provided in § 16-1001(8).

(5) “Victim” means a person against whom severe emotional abuse or an intrafamily offense has been committed or is alleged to have been committed.

(b)(1) A domestic violence counselor shall not disclose a confidential communication except:

(A) As required by statute or by a court of law;

(B) As voluntarily authorized in writing by the victim;

(C) To other individuals employed at the domestic violence program and third party providers when and to the extent necessary to facilitate the delivery of services to the victim;

(D) To the Metropolitan Police Department or other law enforcement agency to the extent necessary to protect the victim or another individual from a substantial risk of imminent and serious physical injury;

(E) To compile statistical or anecdotal information, without personal identifying information, for research or public information purposes; or

(F) For any confidential communications relevant to a claim or defense if the victim files a lawsuit against a domestic violence counselor or a domestic violence program.

(2) Unless the disclosure is public, confidential communications disclosed pursuant to paragraph (1) of this subsection shall not be further disclosed by the recipient except as authorized in paragraph (1) of this subsection.

(3) Confidential communications are not waived by the presence of a sign language or foreign language interpreter. Such an interpreter is subject to the same disclosure limitations set forth in paragraph (1) of this subsection and the same privilege set forth in subsection (c) of this section.

(c)(1) Except as provided in paragraph (2) of this subsection, when a victim is under 12 years of age, has been adjudicated incompetent by a court of competent jurisdiction for the purpose of asserting or waiving the privilege established by this section, or is deceased, the victim’s parent, guardian, or personal representative may assert or waive the privilege.

(2) If the parent, guardian, or personal representative of a victim described in paragraph (1) of this subsection has been charged with an intrafamily offense or has had a protection order or a neglect petition entered against him or her at the request of or on behalf of the victim, or otherwise has interests adverse to those of the victim with respect to the assertion or waiver of the privilege, the court shall appoint an attorney for purposes of asserting or waiving the privilege.

(d) The assertion of any privilege under this section is not admissible in evidence.

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