With respect to missing children, it is important for victim families to know that the first 48 hours following the disappearance are most critical in terms of finding and returning the child safely home. Since these hours are also the most chaotic, it is critical that some basic “do’s-and-don’ts” are kept in mind.
The missing child should be reported immediately, keeping in mind that there is no waiting period for entry into NCIC (National Crime Information Center) for children under 18 years of age. (Television shows often state there is a waiting period to report a missing child or adult. This is false, report the missing to law enforcement immediately.)
It is very important that the victim’s family members limit access to their home until such time that law enforcement officers can respond and collect possible evidence. Remember that clothing, sheets, personal items, computers, and even trash may hold clues to the whereabouts of the missing child. Also, it is important to provide investigations with a recent photograph of the child.
Runaways are not synonymous with missing persons. If a case is initially classified or being handled as a “runaway”, it could become a missing person, depending on the information developed during the course of the investigation. There is no specific time period as to when a “runaway” becomes a “missing person”.
In specific cases, a law enforcement agency may request an Amber Alert through CBI. The criteria for an Amber Alert is very specific. The most important criteria is there is credible information that the child was kidnapped.
If you know the whereabouts or can add to the circumstances of a person classified as missing, please notify the Missing Persons Unit at 303-660-7548.
These are the ramifications for another juvenile or adult assisting a runaway child:
Harboring a Minor C.R.S. 18-6-601
A person commits the crime of harboring a minor if the person knowingly provides shelter to a minor without the consent of a parent, guardian, custodian of the minor, or the person with whom the child resides the majority of the time pursuant to a court order allocating parental responsibilities and if the person intentionally:
- Fails to release the minor to a law enforcement officer after being requested to do so by a law enforcement officer.
- Fails to disclose the location of the minor to a law enforcement officer when requested to do so, if the person knows the location of the minor and had either taken the minor to that location or has assisted the minor in reaching that location; or
- Obstructs a law enforcement officer from taking the minor into custody; or
- Assists the minor in avoiding or attempting to avoid the custody of a law enforcement officer; or
- Fails to notify the parent, guardian, custodian of the minor, or the person with whom the child resides the majority of the time pursuant to a court order allocating parental responsibilities or a law enforcement officer that the minor is being sheltered within twenty-four hours after shelter has been provided.
- If the shelter provided to the minor is by a licensed child care facility, including a licensed homeless youth shelter, the minor, despite the minor’s status, may reside at such facility or shelter for a period not to exceed two weeks after the time of intake, pursuant to the procedures set forth in article 5.7 of title 26, C.R.S.
- It is a defense to a prosecution under this section that the defendant had custody of the minor or lawful parenting time with the minor pursuant to a court order.
Harboring a minor is a class 2 misdemeanor.
For additional information, please e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org