Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Caylee’s Law Would Allow Felony Criminal Charges against Parents of Missing Children

Efforts around the country to pass legislation that would allow charges to be filed against parents who fail to report when their children are missing, are gaining momentum. In Florida, lawmakers have already proposed legislation that would allow felony charges to be brought against parents who wait too long to report that their children are missing. Other states are considering similar measures.

The Florida legislation came after a petition was signed by more than 700,000 people calling for such legislation. Under the Florida proposal, parents who fail to report a missing child under the age of 12 after 48 hours, could face felony charges. Additionally, the Florida legislature would also allow felony charges to be brought against parents who fail to report a child's death or the location of the child's corpse within two hours of the death.

The calls for such legislation have emerged after the acquittal of Casey Anthony for the murder of her two-year-old daughter. Anthony was acquitted of the murder and other charges, but was found guilty of lying to investigators. These were misdemeanor charges that led to a four-year prison sentence. However, had there been a law requiring parents to report their missing children, she could have been sentenced to up to 15 years.

Other states around the country are also considering such measures. In Utah, lawmakers are in the beginning stages of drafting a bill that would make it a felony to fail to report a missing or dead child. The bill will be presented in the next legislative session. Similar efforts are underway in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. In Colorado, people have been sending mass e-mails to legislators to push for a similar law.

From experience, Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys have noted that when laws are designed purely to honor a deceased person, they usually end up doing more harm than good. These laws have little reasoning, and are designed simply to appease the public.

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