Speak Up! - View Question #159
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Question: Is it unlawful for a minor (16) to runaway? If so what is the punishment?
Answer: If you are in a crisis situation or need counseling, LawForKids.org lists many 1-800 help lines that might be able to assist you. Call 911 if you are in immediate danger.
If a person is under age 18 in Arizona, he or she cannot leave home without a parent's permission unless he or she is fully emancipated, or the parents have lost their right to parental authority.
If a 16-year-old leaves home without permission from a parent or legal guardian, he or she can be prosecuted as an incorrigible child (A.R.S. § 8-201(15)(c)). Some of the consequences of being found incorrigible include being fined, be placed on probation, and being ordered to do community service. The specific charges and consequences are left up to the officer of the court.
If the parent cannot control the child, the child can be removed from the parent's supervision. The child may then be placed in an appropriate living place, a foster home or some type or a state facility.
Even if the parent does not report the run away, Child Protective Services can become involved if the minor living away from home is not receiving age-appropriate supervision, is engaging in harmful conduct, does not have adequate food, clothing, shelter, medical care, or is living with an inappropriate person.
You will not be punished by being jailed, or fined, but running away will cause you a lot of problems. You may also cause problems for any adult who helps you.