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Helping out a runaway? Watch out for the law

On Behalf of | Jun 14, 2022 | Juvenile Crimes

There are times in some teens’ lives where they decide that they would rather not be at home. Sometimes, these minors become repeat runaways, hiding with friends or staying at other adults’ homes. They may ask that no one says where they are and try to stay away from their parents, which causes a big issue.

When a minor runs away from home and the parent doesn’t know where they are, they may call the police, start a search and be terrified about where their child has gone. At the same time, the person who is allowing the minor to stay with them may be accused of harboring a runaway, which is also known as aiding and abetting, or contributing to delinquency.

Contributing to delinquency is a serious offense

If you knowingly take in a minor who has run away from home and don’t inform their parents of their location, you could be accused of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. You can protect yourself against this in a few ways, such as by:

  • Reporting the location of the minor to the police
  • Reporting the location of the minor to the parents
  • Taking the child home
  • Taking the child to the police station, fire department or other emergency location

If there is some reason that the teen doesn’t want to return home and it seems reasonable for them to avoid returning, you may want to involve the police or an attorney. For instance, if the teen claims that their mother or father attacked them at home before they ran away, it may be time to get Maryland’s Child Protective Services involved in the case.

As an adult, the last thing you want is to have a criminal charge or conviction on your record when you were just trying to help. If you have questions about what you can or cannot do in this situation, it may be a good idea to learn more about your state laws, talk to an attorney or go to the police about the problem. There are options to help teens who are dealing with difficult home environments get the help they need.