03 Feb Sheltering a Runaway Minor in Florida – Is it Legal?
Is Sheltering a Runaway Minor Illegal in Florida?
Sheltering a Runaway Minor. We received a question a few days ago from a young adult who wanted to help out her friend by providing her a place to stay for a few days. The problem is that her friend is an unemancipated minor, who was under the age of 18 and a recent runaway. She had the foresight to contact us and ask if that would be an issue. Unfortunately for her, it may be. While we recognize that she was trying to do the right thing by helping out a friend in need, the State of Florida actually expressly prohibits this type of behavior by statute.
Under Florida Statute §984.085, she may not *knowingly* shelter an unmarried minor for more than 24 hours without the consent of the minor’s parent or guardian or without notifying a law enforcement officer of the minor’s name and the fact that the minor is being provided shelter. The aid prohibited under this paragraph includes assisting the minor in obtaining shelter, such as hotel lodgings. If she was charged with a violation of this statute, she faces a penalty in the form of a misdemeanor of the first degree. There are, unfortunately, also other charges that can be brought against the young woman for helping out her friend.
What Should She Do?
The smartest thing that the friend could do, should she still want to help out her friend, is give her friend’s parents a call. Let them know that their daughter is staying with you for a few days and that she is safe. Keep in mind that the person who contacted us did not claim that there was any type of abuse on the part of the parents her runaway friend. Under that circumstance, I think that the proper course of action would be to contact the Miami Police Department.
If you have any other questions regarding the legal complications of sheltering a runaway in Florida, give us a call.