Protective custody means the taking of physical custody of a juvenile by a physician, law enforcement officer, or juvenile officer as provided by law, and the retention of physical custody of a juvenile in temporary protective custody, protective custody, or detention.
There are three ways in which a child can be taken into protective custody:
- Emergency protective custody taken by a police officer, law enforcement official, physician, or juvenile officer;
- A judge signs an order without holding a court hearing due to emergency circumstances;
- As a result of a court hearing.
Pursuant to Section 210.125, RSMo., a police officer, law enforcement official, or a physician may take temporary protective custody when there is reasonable cause to believe that:
- A child is in imminent danger of suffering serious physical harm or threat to life as a result of abuses or neglect; and
- The harm or threat to life may occur before the juvenile court can issue an order or the juvenile officer take the child
Elements of imminent danger include:
- The danger must be imminent or immediate;
- A threat to life or serious physical harm, or the child has been sexually abused or is in imminent danger of sexual abuse; and
- Action needs to be taken immediately to prevent further harm.
Police officers, law enforcement officials, or physicians may use the Authorization to Provide Alternative Care (CS-33) form to authorize emergency protective custody.
When protective custody is taken without a court order, the juvenile officer must obtain a court order continuing protective custody within twenty-four (24) hours of the authorization.