Senator NICHOLAS J. SACCO
District 32 (Bergen and Hudson)
Senator LINDA R. GREENSTEIN
District 14 (Mercer and Middlesex)
Senators Codey, Girgenti, Buono, Vitale, Ruiz, Scutari, Rice, Weinberg, Beach, Turner, Gordon, Stack, Cunningham, Van Drew, Norcross, Madden, B.Smith, Sarlo, Whelan, Lesniak and Sweeney
“Caylee’s Law;” upgrades penalties for failing to report a death; criminalizes failure to report disappearance of child within 24 hours.
CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT
An Act concerning certain reporting requirements, designated as Caylee’s Law, amending P.L.1967, c.234, and supplementing chapter 12 of Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes.
Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:
1. Section 12 of P.L.1967, c.234 (C.52:17B-89) is amended to read as follows:
12. Any person who may become aware of any death by criminal violence [or], by accident or suicide, or in any suspicious or unusual manner, shall report [such] that death to the office of county medical examiner, the office of State Medical Examiner, or to the police department of the municipality in which [such] the person died.
Any person who shall willfully neglect or refuse to report [such] the death, or who, without an order from the office of county medical examiner or the office of State Medical Examiner, shall willfully touch, remove, or disturb the body of [any such] the person, or touch, remove or disturb the clothing upon or near [such] the body, is [a disorderly person] guilty of a crime of the fourth degree.
(cf: P.L.1967, c.234, s.12)
2. (New section) a. A parent, guardian, or other person with legal custody of a child who knew or should have known of the disappearance of a child for which that parent, guardian, or other person is responsible who fails to report the missing child to the appropriate law enforcement agency within 24 hours shall be guilty of a crime of the fourth degree.
b. For the purposes of this section, a "missing child" means a person 13 years of age or younger whose whereabouts are not currently known.
3. This act shall take effect immediately.
This bill would increase the penalties for failing to report a death and would make it crime for failing to report a missing child.
Under current law, a person who
becomes aware of a death by criminal violence or accident is required to report
that death to the county medical examiner, the State Medical Examiner, or the
municipal police department where the death occurred. A person who willfully neglects or refuses to report the death, or who touches, removes, or disturbs the body of the dead person, is guilty of a disorderly persons offense. A disorderly persons offense is punishable by up to six months in prison, a fine of up to $1,000, or both. This bill would upgrade this offense to a crime of the fourth degree. Fourth degree crimes are punishable by a term of imprisonment of up to 18 months, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.
The bill also makes it a crime of the fourth degree for a responsible parent, guardian, or other person with legal custody of a child who knew or should have known of the disappearance of that child to fail to report the missing child to the appropriate law enforcement agency within 24 hours.
This bill, named “Caylee’s Law,” is in response to the tragic case of Caylee Anthony, whose mother, Casey Anthony, was recently found not guilty of Caylee’s murder. In that case, Caylee Anthony was missing for 31 days before her disappearance was reported by her grandmother. This bill addresses this situation by imposing harsher penalties on anyone who fails to report a child’s death and criminalizing the failure of parents to promptly notify authorities when their child is missing.