California Runaway Laws

California runaways are subject to the California Welfare and Institutions Code.
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Becoming a runaway in California may subject you to unwanted punishments. California has many rules and regulations in place to deal with minors who are chronically disobedient, threaten the safety of themselves and others, are often truant and who run away from home without parental consent. If a parent, guardian, law enforcement official or teacher suspects a minor of these behaviors, he may refer the minor to a special agency. Furthermore, all 50 states have ratified an agreement to supervise and transfer runaway children who have crossed state lines.

Youth Referral

According to the California Welfare and Institutions Code, any person under the age of 18 may be reported to the Youth Referral Center by a parent, guardian, police officer, welfare agency or school. Any of these organizations or persons may refer the minor due to habitual disobedience of reasonable parental rules, running away from home or other at-risk behaviors. The Youth Referral Center will assess the behavior problems of the minor and determine whether she is likely to commit further crimes in the future. After this, the center performs a family assessment to find out the family's contribution to the behavior issue. The center conducts the assessment through interviews with both the minor and his parents.

Police Custody

If a minor has a history of parental disobedience, is found to be sick on the streets, or has run away from home, a police officer may apprehend the minor without a warrant. The officer must read the minor her Miranda rights, informing her of her right to remain silent. The juvenile has the right to have an appointed attorney if he cannot afford one. The officer may request that the minor undergo a chemical test for drugs or alcohol. The results of the test will be used by the courts to determine the behavioral disposition of the runaway.

Interstate Compact

California has adopted the Interstate Compact on Juveniles, an agreement that lays out the provisions for dealing with runaways who have crossed state lines. According to the compact, any minor who has run away from home, moved across state lines while on probation, escaped from a detention center or needs to be institutionalized must be monitored within the new state or returned to his home state.