Texas Missing Child Laws

Missing Child Laws

In Texas, when a child is missing and believed to be in danger, there is no 24 hour waiting period. If a Texas law enforcement agency tells you otherwise, they are misinformed and you need to insist that they take a missing child report immediately, file your information with the state Clearinghouse and the National Crime Information Center (NCIC), and begin an investigation into the whereabouts of your child.
Texas State Law, from the Texas Code of Criminal Procedures:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Art. 63.001. Definitions

In this chapter:

(1) "Child" means a person under 18 years of age.
(2) "Missing person" means a person 18 years old or older whose disappearance is possibly not voluntary.
(3) "Missing child" means a child whose whereabouts are unknown to the child's legal custodian, the circumstances of whose absence indicate that:

(A) the child did not voluntarily leave the care and control of the custodian, and the taking of the child was not authorized by law;
(B) the child voluntarily left the care and control of his legal custodian without the custodian's consent and without intent to return; or
(C) the child was taken or retained in violation of the terms of a court order for possession of or access to the child.

Art. 63.009. Law Enforcement Requirements

(a) Local law enforcement agencies, on receiving a report of a missing child or a missing person, shall:

(1) if the subject of the report is a child and the well-being of the child is in danger or if the subject of the report is a person who is known by the agency to have or is reported to have chronic dementia, including Alzheimer's dementia, whether caused by illness, brain defect, or brain injury, immediately start an investigation in order to determine the present location of the child or person;
(2) if the subject of the report is a child or person other than a child or person described by Subdivision (1), start an investigation with due diligence in order to determine the present location of the child or person;
(3) immediately enter the name of the child or person into the clearinghouse, the national crime information center missing person file if the child or person meets the center's criteria, and the Alzheimer's Association Safe Return crisis number, if applicable, with all available identifying features such as dental records, fingerprints, other physical characteristics, and a description of the clothing worn when last seen, and all available information describing any person reasonably believed to have taken or retained the missing child or missing person; and
(4) inform the person who filed the report of the missing child or missing person that the information will be entered into the clearinghouse, the national crime information center missing person file, and the Alzheimer's Association Safe Return crisis number, if applicable.

(b) Information not immediately available shall be obtained by the agency and entered into the clearinghouse and the national crime information center file as a supplement to the original entry as soon as possible.

(c) All Texas law enforcement agencies are required to enter information about all unidentified bodies into the clearinghouse and the national crime information center unidentified person file. A law enforcement agency shall, not later than the 10th working day after the date the death is reported to the agency, enter all available identifying features of the unidentified body (fingerprints, dental records, any unusual physical characteristics, and a description of the clothing found on the body) into the clearinghouse and the national crime information center file. If an information entry into the national crime information center file results in an automatic entry of the information into the clearinghouse, the law enforcement agency is not required to make a direct entry of that information into the clearinghouse.

(d) If a local law enforcement agency investigating a report of a missing child or missing person obtains a warrant for the arrest of a person for taking or retaining the missing child or missing person, the local law enforcement agency shall immediately enter the name and other descriptive information of the person into the national crime information center wanted person file if the person meets the center's criteria. The local law enforcement agency shall also enter all available identifying features, including dental records, fingerprints, and other physical characteristics of the missing child or missing person. The information shall be cross-referenced with the information in the national crime information center missing person file.

(e) A local law enforcement agency that has access to the national crime information center database shall cooperate with other law enforcement agencies in entering or retrieving information from the national crime information center database.

(f) Immediately after the return of a missing child or missing person or the identification of an unidentified body, the local law enforcement agency having jurisdiction of the investigation shall cancel the entry in the national crime information center database.

(g) On determining the location of a child under Subsection (a)(1) or (2), other than a child who is subject to the continuing jurisdiction of a district court, an officer shall take possession of the child and shall deliver or arrange for the delivery of the child to a person entitled to possession of the child. If the person entitled to possession of the child is not immediately available, the law enforcement officer shall deliver the child to the Department of Protective and Regulatory Services.