A teenager may decide to run away when things become so bad at home, he feels he can no longer deal with the situation. This could be due many different reasons, such as abusive parents, poverty, neglect or simply defiance. The first thing many people want to do is help by giving him a safe place to stay until the situation at home improves. While you think you may be helping a teenager in need, you could actually be charged with a crime for harboring a teen runaway. There is no particular law in Ohio outlining harboring a teen runaway. However, there are two specific laws in which it would fall under.
An unruly child in Ohio is considered to be any child under the age of 18 who does not submit to the control and authority of his parents or legal guardian. He could also be unruly if he is habitually truant from school. Children are legally required to attend school. A child who disobeys his parent or guardian by running away from home would be an unruly child under of Ohio law.
Delinquent children are those who have been adjudicated in a court of law for an unlawful offense. Adjudicated is similar to an adult being convicted of a crime. For instance, if the child was ordered by an Ohio juvenile court not miss any more school and the child disobeys the court order, he is delinquent.
Contributing to a Minor
By harboring a teen runaway in your home, you can be charged with contributing to the unruliness or delinquency of a minor in the state of Ohio. Allowing the teen to remain in your home as a runaway would constitute aiding or abetting him in becoming unruly or delinquent. For each day the child is in your home, you can be charged with a separate offense. This means if you harbor him for 5 days, you will be charged with 5 counts of contributing and so on.
Interference with Custody
Under the law in Ohio, you can also be charged with a misdemeanor of interference with custody for harboring a teen runaway. Under this statute, the law does provide a defense to such a situation. If you can prove that you harbored the teen out of fear for his general health or safety, it is possible the court will be lenient or even drop the charges.