Crime & Law Enforcement Issues & Death Penalty/Would I Get Into Trouble.

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Question
Hi
Thanks for reading this. This may sound extremely selfish. But I'm wondering if I could get into trouble. My friend kind of ran away. She has been keeping contact with me. When her mom asked where she was I told I didn't know. She staying at one of her boyfriends houses. She has a lot of online boyfriends. His family doesn't know she ran away. I've all ready told her she could get them in trouble but she doesn't care. Her mom won't ever report her missing, I don't know why. I think something may have happened to my friend because something happened and she won't tell me what it is. She even stopped talking to me. So my question is if something happened to her and I didn't tell anyone where she is would I get into trouble.  Thanks for reading this.  She is 16 and so am I.

Answer
Hey, Becka, first, thanks for writing to me with your question and, second, I'm very, very sorry for such a delayed response, apparently, my pc was not communicating properly with the site.

I'm sorry that you are in the situation that you described, it's a very tough spot to be in. And, please don't apologize for thinking you're being selfish. You're being smart & covering your butt, a perfectly normal & smart human thing. Legally, you should have no worries because, to the best of my knowledge & experience, there is nothing that you can be charged with for failing to notify the authorities (or her parents) of a runaway's location. However, keep something in mind, even though it will probably never happen in your situation, if you find yourself being officially questioned by the police, and you lie, there is a charge called "making false statements to law enforcement", worded slightly differently in different cities. This charge is not even used very often and very, very rarely, if ever at all, in a runaway case where the minor friend lied. The charge is more for adults involving much more serious cases when, maybe, the case involves the death of a runaway and the false statements of an adult had an effect on the child's well being. Also, If you ever do find yourself being questioned at a police station, by law, your parents must be present & I'd hope that you'd remain silent until a lawyer arrives.

Understand something else, it's one thing to simply KNOW where she is, but, the whole ball game changes if you actually let her stay at your house knowing she's a runaway. That could cause you and/or, but, mostly, your parents legal trouble, because, then you'd be 'aiding' a runaway. Anyone who does that could get into trouble. The best thing for her boyfriend's parents to do is, without your friend knowing, either call the police or, if there is no risk of danger from her parents, call them.

If you're satisfied with the legal part of my answer, you can stop reading. If you'd like advice on ways to best help your friend, keep reading.

Now, morally, Becka, that's something different. Your moral decision whether or not to tell anyone where your friend is would depend on several things. Things to think about would be:

how close are you with her/her family, do you owe her or her family any certain loyalty or is she just an acquaintance...

whether or not it IS NOT SAFE for her to go home for her safety, if whatever you think may have 'happened' is normal teenager/parent drama, then it may be ok to let it go. Although, if something serious may have happened, maybe you should inform someone (your parents, the police, dept of juvenile services, etc).

Or, again, depending on how close you both are, should you be putting what is best & safest for her at the top of your priority list, you know? It's always a good trait to be loyal to a friend, but, if your loyalty may only cause harm to come to the friend, you must think to yourself about which is more important, loyalty to keep her secret or the SAFETY of your friend. Something may have happened that requires your friend to get professional help, like counseling, etc.

Lastly, I'll remind you of the old expression, "you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him/her drink". ALL YOU CAN DO is be there, as a friend, for her, listen to her, sympathize with her (even if you may not agree), give her your best advice & hope she makes the RIGHT decision. If you truly want to help her, what you don't want to do is drive her away from you. Keep her thinking she can trust you, because THAT WAY, at least you'll always have open communication with her. If she thinks she can't trust you, she'll cut away & communication is over. And IF that happens, you CANNOT blame yourself if you know that you did all you could for her own good.

I hope I've helped you & please feel free to contact me if you need anything else. More people should have friends like you. Please remember to rate my answer & take care of yourself, Becka.  

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Patrick Malloy

Expertise

I can answer questions relating to arrests, arrest procedures, domestic situations, traffic citations, auto accidents. i cannot answer many questions regarding other types of law rather than Criminal Law and/Police related questions.

Experience

Throughout my 18 year career as a police officer in Philadelphia, I have worked both uniform and plain clothes in a variety of assignments. I don't know it all, but I surely can give expert advice on most issues. And if I don't know something, then I simply tap the vast array of resources that I have at my disposal.

Organizations
Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #5.

Education/Credentials
Training Credentials: Tactical Response Situational Training, Mental Health, Criminal Procedure, Vehicle Law & Code, Crime Scene Investigation, Court Testimony Procedure, Police Safety Coordination. Hostage Negotiation.

Awards and Honors
Several Departmental Commendations ( Arrests for crimes such as Homicide, Bank Robbery, 'Most Wanted', Shooting, Domestic Assault and other types).

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