Cumberland Times-News

March 5, 2013

Caylee’s Law bill advancing in House

Matthew Bieniek
Cumberland Times-News

— CUMBERLAND — A bill requiring adults to report the death or disappearance of a child has passed with a favorable recommendation through the House Judiciary Committee and was approved on its second reading in the House of Delegates in Annapolis Tuesday.

That sets the bill up for ultimate passage in the House and a move into the state Senate, where similar legislation lost a battle with time last year and did not pass before the General Assembly adjourned.

The bill’s primary sponsor is Delegate Kevin Kelly of Allegany County. It would require parents or guardians of a missing or deceased child to notify law enforcement officials within limited periods of time based on the child’s age.

“According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, as of September 19, 2012, 11 states have enacted legislation criminalizing the failure to report a missing or deceased child. Key variations among the bills include the qualifying age of the missing or deceased child, the length of time in which the child’s guardian must report the incident and the classification of the crime,” a policy note prepared by the Department of Legislative Services stated.

“If a child disappears for more than 24 hours, law enforcement should be notified,” Kelly has said. “It’s common sense. You need to do an Amber Alert.”

The bill requires a parent or other person who has permanent care or custody or responsibility for the supervision of a minor who is younger than 13 to notify the appropriate law enforcement agency that the minor is missing within 24 hours of the time the adult knew or should have known that the child was missing.

The proposal developed after Casey Anthony’s acquittal in Florida of charges that she murdered her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee.

Anthony did not report her daughter missing to police, who were finally alerted to the missing child by Casey Anthony’s mother 30 days after the child was last seen. Anthony was convicted of four misdemeanor counts of lying to investigators.

The proposed law is designed to allow prosecutors to bring charges against adults who do not quickly report missing children, with most of the proposals requiring law enforcement notification within 24 or 48 hours after a child goes missing, or a shorter time frame to report the death of a child.

Contact Matthew Bieniek at mbieniek@times-news.com.