Utah State Runaway Laws

By Peter Lancett

In Utah, according to Chapter 4a Section 501 of the Utah state legal code, any minor who is absent from the family home or legally prescribed residence of that minor's parent, parents, or legal guardian or guardians, without the consent of either a parent or legal guardian is considered a runaway. Section 15-2-1 of the Utah legal code defines a minor as any unemancipated person under the age of 18. In Utah, minors under the age of 18 can only be emancipated from their parents or legal guardians by marriage.

Harboring a Runaway

If a runaway is given shelter in the home of a person or in any building or structure that the person owns or controls, that person is said to be harboring the runaway. This definition of harboring a runaway is covered in section 62A-4a-501 of the Utah legal code. Any person who harbors a minor, knowing the minor to be a runaway, is guilty of a class B misdemeanor if he or she fails to promptly notify the parent or guardian of the minor, the Child and Family Services Division, or a youth services center.

Child and Family Services Responsibilities

The Utah Child and Family Services division is responsible for upholding, promoting, and enforcing any federal laws concerning runaway minors who have crossed state lines to be in Utah. In the event that a runaway minor becomes the responsibility of the division, the division must cooperate with other licensed welfare agencies to provide support for the minor. Section 62A-4a-105(6) also charges the Child and Family Services division with the responsibility for providing care for dependent, abused, or neglected minors, including runaways.

Exceptions to Reporting Requirements

Any person harboring a runaway minor has a duty to promptly report the whereabouts of the minor to an appropriate authority by telephone or other reasonable means of communication. "Promptly" is defined as being within eight hours, by Utah state code 62A-4a-501 (1b). Section 62A-4a-501 (3) states that a person harboring a runaway minor does not have to report the minor's whereabouts to the runaway's parents or legal guardians if a court order is issued authorizing the police to take the minor into custody. In this event, the person harboring the minor can instead promptly notify the nearest detention center or police officer.

About the Author

Peter Lancett has been writing professionally for 10 years. He has five novels and a series of award-winning illustrated books currently distributed internationally. Lancett writes for film and television alongside his work for Demand Studios. He has traveled extensively and has lived in England and New Zealand.

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