Competing ‘Caylee’s Law’ bills introduced in Senate

TRENTON – As lawmakers said they would earlier this week, bills to increase penalties for failing to report a death or failing to report a missing child have been introduced.

S3010 and S3014, the former a Democratic bill, the latter a Republican bill, were introduced as part of the national outrage over the verdict in the case of the death of 2-year-old Caylee Anthony, whose mother Casey Anthony was found not guilty in the child’s death.

Her daughter’s disappearance was not reported for 31 days. Casey Anthony only was found guilty of lying to authorities.

The Democrats’ bill, primarily sponsored by Sens. Nicholas Sacco, (D-32), Bergen/Hudson, and Linda Greenstein, (D-14), Mercer/Middlesex, would make it a crime of the fourth degree for failing to report a death.

In addition, the bill would make it a fourth-degree crime if a parent or guardian fails to report a missing child within 24 hours.

The penalty for such a crime would be 18 months in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.

The GOP bill, primarily sponsored by Sens. Thomas Kean Jr., (R-21), Union/Essex/Morris/Somerset, and Diane Allen, (R-7), Burlington/Camden, would provide for harsher penalties. It would make it a crime of the third degree for failing to report a death or disappearance of a child within 24 hours.

A third-degree crime is punishable by a fine of up to $15,000, a jail term of three to five years, or both. Under this bill, a person would have to serve at least three years before becoming eligible for parole.

The Republicans’ bill would make it a crime of the second degree to conceal the death or disappearance of a child. Such a crime would be punishable by a fine of up to $150,000, a jail term of five to 10 years, or both.

Under current state law, a person who fails to report a death is guilty of a disorderly person’s offense, punishable by a fine of up to $1,000, six months in jail, or both.

Competing ‘Caylee’s Law’ bills introduced in Senate