Teens who have chosen to leave home without their parent’s permission are considered runaways and anyone found housing that teen can face criminal charges of harboring a runaway.
Running away hurts those who help you
Running away may seem like the only resort for teens to escape problems of home life, however most minors are unaware of how this can hurt those who help them. Unless the runaway teens are able to find employment, they will eventually need someone else to feed and house them. Friends, family, or strangers who are compassionate enough to take a runaway teen under their wing can ultimately be punished for their hospitality.
Harboring a runaway
Harboring a runaway or providing any type of shelter for a runaway minor is a class B misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a thousand dollar fine. According to Utah Code 62A-4a-415, the person harboring a runaway teen can face charges if they:
• “knowingly and intentionally harbor[s] a minor;
• Knows at the time of harboring the minor that the minor is a runaway;
• Fails to notify one of the following […] of the location of the minor: the parent or legal guardian of the minor; the division; or a youth services center; and
• Fails to notify [one of the above described persons] within eight hours after the later of: the time that the person becomes aware that the minor is a runaway; or the time that the person begins harboring the minor.”
Contact the proper sources
Teens shouldn’t put those they care about in situations where they could face criminal charges for harboring a runaway. If a minor feels that they cannot stay at home for whatsoever reasons, there are options that should be considered before running away such as being upfront with parents about problems or seeking help at a youth shelter. For legal counsel related to harboring a runaway or for minors who are facing any criminal charges, contact a defense attorney who is experienced with adult and juvenile law.