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Law Educator, Esq.
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Category: Family Law
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I have a 17 y/o son who ran away after high school graduation.

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I have a 17 y/o son who ran away after high school graduation. He thought he was emancipated because of graduating high school (Texas). We did not see any of this coming at all. My wife had a baby the night before; it was mother's day weekend; and after the graduation, which was Saturday morning, he said he was going to lunch with friends and we'd see him later. I had gone home with our 3 y/o son to take a nap, woke up a few hours later and my wife and family at the hospital had not heard from him. I called and that's when I noted his cell phone was sitting on the table, next to an envelope that he left addressed to mom and dad. He said he was running away primarily because of our religion (mormon). he left a similar letter for his sister, that we found later. We tracked down who he last been seen with. Turns out it was with a family on the north side of Houston (we live south). I had already contacted police/filed missing person report. through our sources, we found out the phone number to my sons friend. The police called the number and left a message. A few hours later, my son called the cops (the only way he had the number was from this friend). We eventually found out that even prior to graduation, my son had switched his mail delivery to this friend's house, whose dad is a Baptist Youth Pastor. We strongly believe this family has been harboring our son, and trust me, there's more to this story than what I'm writing. But essentially, the police are saying they're not going to do anything. We have lots of circumstantial evidence I guess: the switching of his physical address to theirs; when my son called the cop, he was calling from a Park-n-spot at an airport and was seen leaving with a white male, in his 40's, driving a dark/black pick-up (which fits the description of the father, but I can't say it was him); when the local detective told the father about the crime of harboring a run-away, he said he wasn't going to jail for this kid. But the botXXXXX XXXXXne is, we're essentially told there is nothing we can do. Can that possibly be true? I can't go after this family somehow civilly, since the cops aren't going to go criminally? My son turns 18 in August, does not do drugs/etc; is not street-smart; we absolutely do not believe he is on the street, anyway; and that, plus his age, seems to be why the cops won't move/investigate on this (resources/bigger fish to fry/etc). What can we do legally or is it really, as we're being told, something we should just move on with? If this youth pastor and son can do this to our kid, they can do it to someone else, true? Any advise you can give us would be helpful.
At 17, the police will generally not take any action because by the time the case makes it to court for contributing to the delinquency of a minor the child will be 18. However, if you are not satisfied with the response of the officers based on the totality of the circumstances you can go to the DA to seek to file charges, but the final decision is up to them.

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