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A couple questions regarding legalities

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  • A couple questions regarding legalities

    I'm not necessarily considering running away. It's more like preparing a back-up plan for possible future use, once I have some money and can safely support myself. (I'm 16)
    I'm really trying to make it til I graduate in 2012, but sometimes I wonder if I'll be able to survive 2 years of staying here...

    Anyway, my first question is if I went out of state and asked a church or homeless shelter for help, would they legally have to tell police that I'm a runaway?

    My second question is, if police found me and I had no (or fake) identification on me, gave them false information, and had changed my appearance from the last picture my mom had of me, what would they do to me?

    Thank you.

  • #2
    Re: A couple questions regarding legalities

    Thanks for getting in touch with the National Runaway Switchboard. We appreciate you taking the time out to share your story with us and seek out information. It sounds like a complicated situation to be in to have to make such a critical decision at a young age. It must be overwhelming to consider leaving home and trying to determine how to survive on your own. It seems that you are mature and responsible to prepare a back-up plan before leaving home.

    Running away is not illegal but parents are permitted to file runaway reports for youth under the age of 18. Runaway reports are entered into a national database regulated by law enforcement. Since you are under the age of 18, you would have to stay at a Youth Shelter. Youth shelters have different policies but most are required to contact a parent or legal guardian within 72 hours to get permission in order for youth to stay any longer. Church policies vary so it may be best to contact them directly and in advance to get their policies regarding the stay of youth under the age of 18.

    Generally speaking, if the police come into contact with a youth who is a suspected runaway, the police will obtain his or her name to determine if he or she is listed as a runaway in their database. If you provide the police with false information and/or has changed your appearance, it may be difficult for the police to confirm whether you are a runaway. If the police cannot confirm that you’re runaway, they should not take you into custody. If the police determine you are a runaway, they may detain you until they are able to get in contact with your parent or legal guardian to make transportation arrangements.

    We hope the information provided was helpful. We want you to remember that you can always contact us toll free at 1-800-RUNAWAY. Our hotline is confidential and anonymous and is available 24 hours and 7 days a week.

    We wish you the best of 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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