Harboring Runaway Child graphic with Texas flag

Harboring Runaway Child

The Harboring Runaway Child crime in the state of Texas makes it illegal to provide a home or shelter to a child if you should have known that the child was a runaway and the child is unrelated to you unless you report the child to its parents or law enforcement. Learn more detailed information about the Harboring Runaway Child offense below.

Have you been charged with Harboring Runaway Child? Call criminal lawyer Paul Saputo at (888) 239-9305 to discuss legal representation.

Harboring Runaway Child is classified in the Texas Penal Code under Title 6 “Offenses Against The Family”, Chapter 25 “Offenses Against The Family.”

What is the current Texas law about Harboring Runaway Child?

The current Texas law is as follows:1

(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.

How can I be charged with Harboring Runaway Child?

You can be charged with Harboring Runaway Child if the state’s attorneys believe that each of the elements of 25.06(a) as described in the section above have been met.

What is the punishment for Harboring Runaway Child?

A conviction for Harboring Runaway Child is punished as a Class A misdemeanor,2 with a maximum possible fine under Texas state law of up to $4,000 and jail time of up to one year. Learn about the differences between grades of felonies and misdemeanors

What if I am related to the child?

If you are related to the child, “within the second degree by consanguinity or affinity” as defined by Chapter 573, Government Code, the statute allows you to present evidence of this as a defense to prosecution.3

What is the affirmative defense against prosecution for reporting the child?

If you notify law enforcement or the child’s caretakers within 24 hours, you can present evidence supporting that claim to a jury if you are prosecuted for Harboring Runaway Child. If the jury believes you, they may find you not guilty based on an affirmative defense in the statute.4

Legal References:

1 Texas Penal Code §25.06.

2 Texas Penal Code §25.06(d)

3 Texas Penal Code §25.06(b)

4 Texas Penal Code §25.06(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.

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