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  • Help?

    What are the legal consequences of running away in the state of WA (when you are not on probation or under state care i.e group home, foster home?)
    I've had people tell me that it's illegal to runaway, you can be sent to juvie, be charged with truancy/unruly child/deliquency? And i've had other people tell me that it's not illegal and that you just get brought back home.
    Do your guardians/parents get investigated by the police, does some kind of social worker intervene, etc?


  • #2
    Re: Help?


    Thank you for contacting the National Runaway Switchboard and we hope that we can be of service to you at this time. The laws for most states vary in terms of what the consequences are for running away. We can safely say that in most states you have to be 18 years old to leave home without permission except for those that requires of you to be 19 or 21. Running away is not a crime but you do get a status as a runaway with the police until you return home. Your parents reserve the right to file a runaway report to protect themselves from being charged with neglect if something were to happen to you when you run and for the police to verify your status if you were picked up. You are not going to be a fugitive but if someone harbors you when you run away, that is illegal and that person could do time in prison, if your parents were to file charges against them.

    It is the responsibility of the police to return you back to your parents when you are found but sometimes they are allowed to hold you until your parents come for you or they could hold you longer if you did a crime while you were a runner. In some cases, the police can take you to juvenile hall to go before a judge the next day to answer to your case but it is only if that is the case for your state and whether or not you have done this to many times. However, it is suppose to be that the cops return you to your parents. It is best if you were to contact your local police to find out more about what the local laws in your town are. The reason for this is that every station operates differently and each officer may deal with you in accordance to that unit's style of dealing with runaways. So, it is not easy to way what you are going to be faced with since laws vary but another resource for answers is for you to call a local legal aid organization to find out more about your rights.

    We imagine that you have your reasons for wanting to know what your local laws in regards to running away are and we hope that you can trust us with our answers to your questions. We also hope that you can contact us at our 1800RUNAWAY hotline if there ever come a time that you or someone you know needed someone to talk you. We are here for you 24 hours a day and all of our liners are all qualified to assist you with your situation. Take this time to do some stay strong and good luck.

    Please remember you can reach us directly by calling our 24 hour hotline, 1-800-RUNAWAY (786-2929) or through our Live Chat.

    National Runaway Safeline
    [email protected] (Crisis Email)
    1-800-RUNAWAY (24 Hour Hotline)

    Tell us what you think about your experience!


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