Runaway Law & Legal Definition


A runaway is a minor who is reported missing because his\her whereabouts are unknown to the child's legal custodian, the circumstances of whose absence indicate that the child voluntarily left the care and control of his legal custodian without the custodian's consent and without intent to return. A runaway may include a minor in the company of another person or is in a situation the circumstances of which indicate that the missing child's or missing person's safety is in doubt, or a minor who is unemancipated as defined by the law of the state.

When identified by authorities, a peace officer will return the minor to the minor's parent or guardian at the parent's or guardian's residence if the residence is in the same community where the minor was found and if the minor's parent or guardian consents to the return, except that the officer may not use this option if the officer has reasonable cause to believe that the minor has experienced physical or sexual abuse in the parent's or guardian's household. It may also be possible to take the minor to a nearby location agreed to by the minor's parent or guardian if the parent or guardian does not consent to return of the minor. The minor might also be taken to an office specified by the Department of Health and Social Services, a program for runaway minors, or a shelter for runaways that agrees to shelter the minor.