California Laws on Teen Runaways

Written by sam kellenberg
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California Laws on Teen Runaways
According to the National Runaway Switchboard, roughly half of runaways flee home because of family issues. (Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images)

California's laws about teen runaways fall under California's Welfare and Institutions Code. In California, the same codes that address delinquents and juvenile criminals also apply to runaways; therefore, being a runaway could result in various punishments, including temporary police custody and referral to state agencies. Harbouring a runaway can also result in criminal charges.

Temporary Custody

In California, an officer may take a minor into temporary custody is the officer believes the child to be a runaway, truant or ward of the juvenile court. A minor found in a public place requiring care or medical treatment can also be taken into temporary custody. In such cases, the minor will be advised of his constitutional rights. Individuals brought into temporary custody may be required to submit to drug testing.

Youth Referral Centers

Runaway teens in California may be referred to Youth Referral Centers by parents, police officers, probation officers, schools or welfare agencies. Such centres may conduct family and behavioural assessments and interviews to evaluate the individual's needs and risks. These centres act as an alternative to juvenile hall, and can provide emergency shelter in some circumstances

Harbouring a Runaway

Harbouring a runaway in California could result in civil or criminal penalties. According to California Penal Code 272, contributing to the delinquency of a minor is a misdemeanour. Penalties are more severe if the teen in question is 14 or younger, unless there is an emergency situation.

Interstate Compact on Juveniles

Runaway minors in any state may be subject to the penalties of the Interstate Compact on Juveniles, which is ratified by every state in the country. The compact necessitates the return of any runaway who has crossed state lines. In most cases, the articles of the compact are carried out under the protective and noncriminal laws concerning delinquent and dependent minors.

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