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Caylee's Law Aims to Toughen Penalties for Failure to Report Missing Kids

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Casey Anthony listens to testimony during her murder trial at the Orange County Courthouse on June 30, 2011 in Orlando, Florida. (Red Huber-Pool/Getty)

Some New Jersey lawmakers want to toughen the penalties for failure to report a missing or deceased child by making them crimes felonies in the wake of the high-profile Casey Anthony case.

Assemblyman John Wisneiwski said the Casey Anthony case in Florida, where a young mother failed to report her 2-year-old daughter Caylee missing for 31 days, has brought the issue to the forefront.

"Everybody would say, 'Well why wouldn't you provide notification immediately upon a child going missing? Why wouldn't you immediately provide notification when someone is killed, when a child is killed?' But the reality shows, in this case, that doesn't always happen," Wisniewski said.

State Senator Nicholas Sacco introduced the bill to the Senate on Monday, and said more than 20 lawmakers have already signed on in support.

The legislation would require notifying police of a missing child under the age of 13 within 24 hours. Failure to do so could result in up to 18 months behind bars, and or up to $10,000 in fines, according to the current bill. 

Sacco said current state laws for failure to report missing or deceased children are lenient.

"In New Jersey, not reporting someone who's deceased is only a disorderly person [offense]," which is the equivalent of a traffic ticket," he said.

Sacco said he's seeking input from police and prosecutors for suggestions on strengthening the bill even more.

Wisniewski said he will introduce the bill in the Assembly at its next session.

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Comments [3]

Sophie from Poughkeepsie, NY

@NABNYC from SoCal

Amen to that!

Jul. 17 2011 04:41 PM
NABNYC from SoCal

The District Attorney charged this case wrong. He should have and could have charged various theories of child neglect or abandonment. He chose, instead, to go for the death penalty, charge a capital crime of intentional and wilfull murder, despite the fact that there was no evidence to support that charge. No evidence of how the child died, no evidence of intentional murder, no evidence of a bullet or knife wound, a skull crushed. No evidence of a history of child abuse or even an instance of child abuse. Not one witness testified that the mother was abusive towards her little girl.

Give the lack of evidence of a capital crime or any form of intentional killing, the only fair charge was some kind of neglect. So why didn't the district attorney plead the case properly?

Usually when a D.A. overcharges, it's because they expect to railroad the defendant into a plea agreement to avoid the possibility of a death sentence. In a case like this, highly emotional, the D.A. often sees a political opportunity to advance his own career, possibly position himself (or herself) to run for state-wide national elected office in the future.

It's a shame that this little girl is dead, and it's a shame that the D.A. didn't do its job properly, didn't make an honest attempt to fairly assess the situation and fairly charge the case based on the available evidence.

But it's very disturbing to see the nation-wide level of lynch-mob mentality encouraging violence towards the defendant. There's not a person among the crowd who knows whether the mother did anything to her little girl, except perhaps turn away and lose it. It could easily have been an accident. Barring evidence to the contrary, the calls across the nation to "get" the defendant, punish her, find other ways to sue her, change the laws etc., are absurd.

I just note that I've never seen this level of outrage from the public against bush-cheney for lying us into war, against Clinton for passing WTO and deregulating the banks which led to bankrupting many of us, against Wall Street for plundering and looting, and against every single politician in D.c. for taking bribes and doing nothing to help the citizens. It's too bad people are so easily manipulated and distracted by bizarre and unusual matters, and are unwilling to look at the big picture and take action where it might do some good.

Jul. 17 2011 03:08 PM
bill from 07753

some NJ lawmakers do nothing else than to "capitalize" on someone elses tragedy. It has nothing to do with NJ and does nothing to enhance the quality of our lives. It's aways "after the fact". Legislaters in NJ are among the most, if not the most, self serving at the expense of the people.

Jul. 17 2011 09:18 AM

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