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Missing children are lost, but sometimes the children are missing because they are in the custody of law enforcement. In that case, here are some frequently asked questions regarding what to do when you child has run in with the law.



What is the actual phone number to call the police for missing children or otherwise?

The non-emergency number for Columbus Police is (614)645-4545. If a parent believes

a child is in custody, the Dispatchers on all zones will ask officers if the name provided is

involved in a current incident. If no one answers, the dispatchers will advise the parent,

and usually, the officers on the precinct that the caller lives will be sent to the home to

take a missing person report.

What are the ages of accountability?

There is not a pre-determined minimum age for a juvenile to be charged with a crime,

although the younger they are, the more likely a court would not find them to have the

maturity (competency) to know right from wrong. A juvenile cannot be younger than 14

to be tried as an adult. 16 is the age in Ohio where an individual can consent to sexual

activity. The ages between 6 and 18 are the presumptive school ages in the state where

a juvenile is expected to be enrolled in a school.

How and when will parents be notified if their child is arrested/detained?

If your child is in police custody, there are several points at which you may be contacted:

If a custodial interview will be conducted a detective may call to discuss or ask you to

respond to headquarters.

If your child is in custody for an offense in which no interview is required (for instance,

they had a warrant for an offense in which they have already been interviewed), you will

get a call from the Court of Domestic Relations (CDR or Juvenile Detention) or you may

get a call from the Village Network (the Reception Center).


Do parents have to be notified or can children keep their arrest or encounter with law

enforcement secret from the parents?

Parents will be notified. Court proceedings will not take place without aparent/guardian/responsible adult present.


Are parents legally liable for illegal activity of their children?

Parents have a duty to care for their child. If, during a time when the parents are so

negligent or reckless in failing to care for their child, the child commits a crime, it is

possible the authorities would consider filing a charge.

Where are arrested children taken and/or held?

Children taken into custody by law enforcement and charged with a crime may be taken

to the Court of Domestic Relations (CDR or Juvenile Detention) or The Village Network

(the Reception Center)

Are boys treated differently than girls?



What rights does my child have if arrested?

A child has the same constitutional rights as an adult, with added protections based

upon their age and experience with the criminal justice system.


What rights do parents have when their child is arrested?

From a law enforcement perspective, a parent has the right to be notified of any law

enforcement encounter that results in a summons or arrest. They will be contacted if a

custodial interrogation will take place (there is context to this, however, as courts have

stated that the police do not have to forego an interview indefinitely if a parent is unable

to be contacted after multiple attempts. The courts have said that the child’s age and

familiarity with the criminal justice system play a role in this equation. Meaning, in an

instance where a parent wasn’t able to be contacted, police can move into an interview

quicker with a 17 year old who has been arrested multiple times, than they would with a

13 year old taken into custody for the first time).

Legal Aid

Capital University Legal Clinic

303 E. Broad St.

Columbus, OH 43215


Columbus Bar Association

Lawyer Referral Service

175 S. Third St., Suite 1100

Columbus, OH 43215



The Legal Aid Society of Columbus

1108 City Park., Suite 101

Columbus, OH 43206


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