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Attorney Renee C. Walsh

Michigan Teenager Plans to Move to Texas Without Parental Consent

I had an inquiry from a Michigan teenager wanting to move to Texas where her boyfriend lived. Texas does participate in the Interstate Compact for Juveniles which means that they will cooperate with Michigan in returning a juvenile who has run away.

Under the Interstate Compact, “juvenile” means any person defined as a juvenile in any member state or by the rules of the Interstate Commission, including:

(1) Accused Delinquent – a person charged with an offense that, if committed by an adult, would be a criminal offense;
(2) Adjudicated Delinquent – a person found to have committed an offense that, if committed by an adult, would be a criminal offense;
(3) Accused Status Offender – a person charged with an offense that would not be a criminal offense if committed by an adult;
(4) Adjudicated Status Offender – a person found to have committed an offense that would not be a criminal offense if committed by an adult; and
(5) Nonoffender – a person in need of supervision who has not been accused or adjudicated a status offender or delinquent.

Under (5), if you are “a person in need of supervision”, Texas would help return you to Michigan. However, Michigan authorities are not going to trigger that help as to a Michigan 17-year-old. See 17-Year-Old Runaways – Not Adults – Not Juveniles – Not Children. Michigan Law Leaves Parents Helpless.

I was asked by the same youth if their boyfriend could get into trouble. Under the Texas Penal Code, Title 6, Chapter 25 Offenses Against the Family, Sec. 25.06 Harboring Runaway Child it is an offense to knowingly harbor a child and be criminally negligent about whether the child is younger than age 18 and is voluntarily absent from the child’s home without the consent of the child’s parent or guardian for a substantial length of time or without the intent to return:

25.06

(a) A person commits an offense if he knowingly harbors a child and he is criminally negligent about whether the child:
(1) is younger than 18 years; and
(2) has escaped from the custody of a peace officer, a probation officer, the Texas Youth Council, or a detention facility for children, or is voluntarily absent from the child’s home without the consent of the child’s parent or guardian for a substantial length of time or without the intent to return.

(b) It is a defense to prosecution under this section that the actor was related to the child within the second degree by consanguinity or affinity, as determined under Chapter 573, Government Code.

(c) It is a defense to prosecution under this section that the actor notified:
(1) the person or agency from which the child escaped or a law enforcement agency of the presence of the child within 24 hours after discovering that the child had escaped from custody; or
(2) a law enforcement agency or a person at the child’s home of the presence of the child within 24 hours after discovering that the child was voluntarily absent from home without the consent of the child’s parent or guardian.

(d) An offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor.

(e) On the receipt of a report from a peace officer, probation officer, the Texas Youth Council, a foster home, or a detention facility for children that a child has escaped its custody or upon receipt of a report from a parent, guardian, conservator, or legal custodian that a child is missing, a law enforcement agency shall immediately enter a record of the child into the National Crime Information Center.

Therefore, the boyfriend could be taking a risk if he helps his girlfriend out. However, under (c), it is a defense to prosecution if he notifies someone at his girlfriend’s home that she is there.

See Texas Interstate Compact on Juveniles.
See Texas Juvenile Justice Code.
See Texas Harboring a Runaway Child.
See Texas Missing Children.

This article was originally published on February 8, 2012. It was revised on April 24, 2014.

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