1. Legacy1306
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    Legacy1306 Senior Member

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    Legal Consequences of Runaways

    Discussion in 'Research' started by Legacy1306, Apr 23, 2011.

    I came up with this idea for a script idea that I wanna write where basically there's this guy who ran away when he was like 16. He was a boy scout, outdoors guy, athletic, you know, able to survive on his own. He noticed other kids on the streets who weren't doing nearly as well as him, so he started taking them in. They banded together to survive. However, when the story starts the main character is 19, and everyone he has with him are minors. Could he be charged for kidnapping? They're not with him against their will. However, I've always been under the impression if for example your parents are divorced and you were to run away to your other parents house (the one you don't legally live with) and they keep you without informing the other parent, its kidnapping. Is this the same sort of situation? If not, could you explain why?

    Also, if police see a runaway child is it their job to return them to their home even if the children want to stay on the streets? I'm reminded of the scene in August Rush where the police storm the theater and the kids all run for safety. Where they running because they didn't want to get caught trespassing at the theater, or because they would be returned to their families, or both? Would they be returned to their families as a direct result of them trespassing at the theater? And I also remember how hard Wizard tried to convince other adults that he had this children legally, so it seems that he would definitely have been charged with kidnapping, despite the kids being there willingly (save for August, of course).

    Help would be greatly appreciated. Also, any other realistic information anyone would like to shed on the subject would be awesome.
     
  2. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Police could charge your MC with kidnapping or at least with enablement. Also the kids can be returned to their parents if they don't want to be (in huge cities with tons of runaways, cops won't care as much because they have other stuff to deal with, like drive-by shootings and stuff)
     
  3. Trish
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    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

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    The problem being that children can't actually be there willingly because they are not adults, they are minors. As such they legally have to be in someone's custody. That guardianship automatically falls to the parents until the child is 18 (and an adult) unless a court has been involved and there is another guardian who is responsible or the child has been emancipated.
     
  4. TheGreatNeechi
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    TheGreatNeechi Member

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    As has been said, your MC will be held responsible should anything happen to the minors, I say "happen", because kidnapping--unlike rape--is not a statutory charge. It must be proven. Even though the MC is not the childrens' guardian, he will be held responsible if harm came to them, not because he is the guardian--he's not--but because he is the only legal adult among them.

    Consequently, if he did not interfere with a legal guardian's attempts to reclaim their child he will likely remain uncharged. If the children are orphans then he can fully expect them to become wards of the state, and find the police knocking on his door. They will have questions. They will hold him for a period not to exceed 72 hours without charge. They will thoroughly interrogate all of the minors for anything, and if one of the minors has a criminal record... your MC is going to prison.

    Truancy laws exist for this precise reason. The minors must be in school, and if they're caught out of school during the course of a school day then they will be detained, sent to the school they are enrolled in--and they will be enrolled--and questioned. The adult--legal guardian or not--will be fined for the truancy problem, and possibly jailed.
     
  5. Legacy1306
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    Legacy1306 Senior Member

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    Awesome guys, thanks :) That's extremely helpful!
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    it's not a crime to be a runaway, but it could well be a crime to 'harbor' one...

    the latter will depend upon the individual circumstances and the willingness of the authorities to prosecute the harborer...

    police officers should detain any obvious minors found living on the streets, but in big cities, they're so busy stopping and catching actual criminals that runaways are more often left alone, or at least have little effort expended on running them down and catching them...

    if they are picked up, and not charged with a crime, they'd be remanded to custody of juvenile authorities till parents can be found... and if they can't, or if the parents are determined to be unfit, they'd be either kept in a juvenile facility, or placed in foster homes, till of age...

    if charged with a crime, they'd normally be tried as juveniles [if the crime isn't sufficiently heinous to try them as adults] and sentenced as juveniles, to do their time in a juvenile detention center...
     
  7. Legacy1306
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    Legacy1306 Senior Member

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    So I've sort of laid out a basic idea of what I want to happen in the story. The MC, named Cody, was out on the streets. The first kid he took in was Ryan, who is very young. His parents abandoned him. Cody agrees to help Ryan find his parents. the two begin their journey, and on the way they pick up other kids in need. This includes Troy and Mitch Walker, a pair of brothers; as well as Amber a young girl who develops a crush on Cody. The story begins sometime after this point. They meet a girl named Jennifer, who doesn't belong with the "clan". She's got loving parents at home and Cody only takes in kids who have good reasons for being there. He tries to take her home, only to learn that her parents died in an accident in the month or two that she was away (car accident, fire, something of that nature). So she returns to the clan. She starts to develop a relationship in secret with Cody. Troy, who is resentful of Cody's leadership enlists Mitch to help him overthrow Cody. Mitch shows Amber one night Cody and Jennifer being intimate, which makes Amber furious. She goes to the local police and reveals to them the clan's hideout. The police storm the place. Although most of the clan escapes, Cody, Amber, and Mitch are captured. (Jennifer should be a ward of the state, right? Since her parents died?) So what would be the punishments Cody would face in the slammer? Any ideas? Sorry if I got a little lengthy in the plot description, I wanted to make sure you guys had the righ amount of background info
     
  8. Annûniel
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    Annûniel Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thought I would point out that this isn't necessarily going to be 18. In the United States, you are only legally required to be in school until you are 16. After that there is no legal requirement but you are still considered to be a minor until you are 18. Countries vary from 10 to 18 in this case, and some have no legal requirements at all.
     
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    yes, any minors without 'fit' parents/guardians would be wards of the state and placed in foster homes, or a juvenile facility...

    as for cody, it depends on his age... if charged as an adult, he could face serious prison time, if he had sex with any of the minors, or if it was coercive or not consensual, even if the girl was of legal consent age...

    check out the movie 'august rush' for a somewhat similar plot...
     
  10. Legacy1306
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    Legacy1306 Senior Member

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    Yeah, I love August Rush. Cody is more of an antagonist than Wizard though. I sort of saw Wizard as what August could have become if he hadn't found the guidance of some of the other characters in the film, like when he went to the Church and when he (unknowingly) met his father.

    Right now I don't intend on the pair having sex, although the viewer can assume whatever he/she likes, I suppose. So would he be charged with kidnapping for all of the children in the Clan? Or is there more to it that you think he'd get?

    Basically, Cody is going to be the major protagonist, Ryan will be the secondary Protagonist, and Troy will be the primary antagonist. Mitch is somewhat an antagonist, but I want to make his character deeper to the point where its sort of in the gray. Basically what I have a habit of doing in most of my stories is every single principle character has a story arc, whether I do so intentionally or not. Jennifer, Ryan, Cody, Troy, Mitch, and Amber will all have major character arcs, as well as probably any other principle characters I add in. I'll probably be adding a major adult role to the film, because of a specific actor I would love to attach.

    So I have two questions actually for this comment:
    1) What charges specifically do you think Cody would get after being captured by the police (the clan has about 10 kids iin it, if that helps)
    2) is it general for cases like this for a single agent to be tied to the case, like you see in movies? (think Tom Hanks in "Catch Me If You Can", or Ethan Hawke in "Lord of War" or Christian Bale in "Public Enemies".) If there would be a single agent leading a hunt for the Clan, that would be the prime spot for my adult role. If not, I'll just have to keep looking.
     
  11. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    1) What charges specifically do you think Cody would get after being captured by the police (the clan has about 10 kids iin it, if that helps)

    ...it wouldn't necessarily be 'kidnapping'... and what he's charged with depends on his age and what he's actually done, or they think he's done, so i can't give you specifics... could be 'reckless endangerment' or lots of other things... if the kids haven't been taken or kept against their will, i doubt there'd be any grounds for a kidnapping charge... the number of kids doesn't affect anything...

    2) is it general for cases like this for a single agent to be tied to the case, like you see in movies? (think Tom Hanks in "Catch Me If You Can", or Ethan Hawke in "Lord of War" or Christian Bale in "Public Enemies".)

    ...no, that's just hollywood... besides, you say they've been caught, so who'd be hunting anyone down?...

    ...what there could be, is a single social services person in charge of the overall case, but there'd be various ones under her/him who'd be assigned to the kids, to make sure each one's case is handled properly, since they wouldn't all be there under the same circumstances... some would have 'fit' parents, some wouldn't...

    ...each kid would also have a guardian ad litem assigned by the court, to make sure their legal rights are protected...

    ...there could also be one person from the police department in overall charge of the case, working with social services, 'missing persons' and whatever 'runaway kids' juvenile department they may have locally, as well as 'vice' and 'robbery/homicide' and 'sex crimes' if any of those would apply...

    ...and, if any federal laws have been broken, then the fbi would also be part of the mix...
     
  12. Legacy1306
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    Legacy1306 Senior Member

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    Thanks very much! :) It's only kids over twelve who get a guardian ad litem, though. Not relevant, just wanted to say it :)

    Yeah, I thought so for the second question. I wrote out a beat sheet for it, and I don't think there's any room for a major adult role, so I'll just have to can it.
     
  13. Reggie
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    Reggie I Like 'Em hot "N Spicy Contributor

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    Hey Lagacy, I apologize if I'm interrupting your suggestion. I have a question for you. Whenever you are writing dialogue in your script, do you always break the page whenever you have a continuing dialgoue on the following page? Sorry to bother.
     
  14. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    actually, one can be appointed for even the unborn!... and certainly for infants, on up to any age, if the person in question is incompetent in re legal actions...
     
  15. Legacy1306
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    Legacy1306 Senior Member

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    @mammamia, huh. That's weird. When I was in the midst of a custody battle last summer (over me) The judge refused to assign me a Guardian Ad Litem because I was 15 and "perfectly able to stand up for myself", I believe is how he put it.

    @Reggie, google "Celtx". Its a free script formatter. It's amazing and I love it. It automatically does page breaks and such. If your dialogue extends onto a second page, you have to do another Character Heading so you know who's speaking, but you don't have to put a (continued). mammamia could probably answer this better than I can.
     
  16. Reggie
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    Reggie I Like 'Em hot "N Spicy Contributor

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    Thanks, Legacy. I'll try the suggestted website you have gave me in the future. I am anticipating on writing my first script and it is exciting.
     

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