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Is it illegal for a child under the age of 18 to run away from home in the state of Virginia?

Richmond, VA |
Filed under: Juvenile law

My son, who is very close to his 16th birthday, wants to live with me, however, his father will not allow it. He has run away from his father's house twice within the past year. After his last attempt to run away, his father made the statement "That's two strikes". Is there something specific that he will be charged with if he runs away for a 3rd time?

Attorney Answers 1


There is not a criminal offense that I am aware of, but the father could file what is called a CHINS petition if he runs away. CHINS refers to a Child in Need of Services, which would allow the county to provide services to try to address the problem of the running away. While there is no criminal offense or record, its effect on the child is similar to a criminal conviction.

Of course, it could also be a bluff, akin to telling a younger child that if they do not behave themselves, the police will come take them away.

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