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Missing persons: Is the 24-hour wait period a myth?

Missing Person

Photo Credit: Flickr/Lord Jim

Missing persons: Is the 24-hour wait period a myth?

By Carolyn Hauck on January 20, 2015

Although a highly unlikely event, having a family member go missing is certainly a worry that passes through our minds now and again. TV shows and movies make missing persons seem like a more common occurrence than it truly is, and are somewhat responsible for continuing the myth that we need to wait 24 hours before filing a missing persons report.

In truth, from time to time spouses, partners, elderly people and children do go missing. And it is also true that you can file a missing persons report at anytime and once filed, depending on the circumstances, police will begin a search for a missing person, especially a child, person with disabilities or senior citizen, right away.

Because the 24-hour waiting period myth is such a well-known one, we double-checked the facts with Ely, a legal expert on JustAnswer, and he confirmed for us that the 24-hour requirement for filing a missing person report is indeed a myth. Yes, says Ely, someone can file a report at any time, and the police will act according to the case.

 

Generally family members must be the ones to file a missing persons report, however babysitters and caregivers would want to file reports immediately and would be considered a credible source by the police.

When filing a report remember to be as specific as you can about the person’s appearance, and include any outstanding features like birthmarks. Also be as detailed as you can about the circumstances surrounding the person’s disappearance. The more information you can give the police the better.

Did you know once a missing person is found, the whereabouts of his or her disappearance is confidential information? Talk with a legal expert to understand your rights surrounding a missing relative.