SENATE, No. 3014

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

214th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED JULY 12, 2011

 


 

Sponsored by:

Senator  THOMAS H. KEAN, JR.

District 21 (Essex, Morris, Somerset and Union)

Senator  DIANE B. ALLEN

District 7 (Burlington and Camden)

 

Co-Sponsored by:

Senators Addiego, S.Kean, Connors, Kyrillos, O'Toole, Bateman, Singer, Oroho and A.R.Bucco

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     “Caylee’s Law;” establishes penalties for failing to report to authorities or otherwise concealing death or disappearance of a child.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

  


An Act concerning the death or disappearance of a child, designated as “Caylee’s Law,” and amending N.J.S.2C:24-4 and N.J.S.2C:28-4.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.    N.J.S.2C:24-4 is amended to read as follows:

     2C:24-4.  Endangering Welfare of Children.

     a.     Any person having a legal duty for the care of a child or who has assumed responsibility for the care of a child who engages in sexual conduct which would impair or debauch the morals of the child, or who causes the child harm that would make the child an abused or neglected child as defined in R.S.9:6-1, R.S.9:6-3 and P.L.1974, c.119, s.1 (C.9:6-8.21) is guilty of a crime of the second degree. Any other person who engages in conduct or who causes harm as described in this subsection to a child under the age of 16 is guilty of a crime of the third degree.

     b.    (1) As used in this subsection:

     "Child" means any person under 16 years of age.

     "Internet" means the international computer network of both federal and non-federal interoperable packet switched data networks.

     "Prohibited sexual act" means

     (a)   Sexual intercourse; or

     (b)   Anal intercourse; or

     (c)   Masturbation; or

     (d)   Bestiality; or

     (e)   Sadism; or

     (f)    Masochism; or

     (g)   Fellatio; or

     (h)   Cunnilingus; or

     (i)    Nudity, if depicted for the purpose of sexual stimulation or gratification of any person who may view such depiction; or

     (j)    Any act of sexual penetration or sexual contact as defined in N.J.S.2C:14-1.

     "Reproduction" means, but is not limited to, computer generated images.

     (2)   (Deleted by amendment, P.L.2001, c.291).

     (3)   A person commits a crime of the second degree if he causes or permits a child to engage in a prohibited sexual act or in the simulation of such an act if the person knows, has reason to know or intends that the prohibited act may be photographed, filmed, reproduced, or reconstructed in any manner, including on the Internet, or may be part of an exhibition or performance.  If the person is a parent, guardian or other person legally charged with the care or custody of the child, the person shall be guilty of a crime of the first degree.

     (4)   Any person who photographs or films a child in a prohibited sexual act or in the simulation of such an act or who uses any device, including a computer, to reproduce or reconstruct the image of a child in a prohibited sexual act or in the simulation of such an act is guilty of a crime of the second degree.

     (5)   (a) Any person who knowingly receives for the purpose of selling or who knowingly sells, procures, manufactures, gives, provides, lends, trades, mails, delivers, transfers, publishes, distributes, circulates, disseminates, presents, exhibits, advertises, offers or agrees to offer, through any means, including the Internet, any photograph, film, videotape, computer program or file, video game or any other reproduction or reconstruction which depicts a child engaging in a prohibited sexual act or in the simulation of such an act, is guilty of a crime of the second degree.

     (b)   Any person who knowingly possesses or knowingly views any photograph, film, videotape, computer program or file, video game or any other reproduction or reconstruction which depicts a child engaging in a prohibited sexual act or in the simulation of such an act, including on the Internet, is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree.

     (6)   For purposes of this subsection, a person who is depicted as or presents the appearance of being under the age of 16 in any photograph, film, videotape, computer program or file, video game or any other reproduction or reconstruction shall be rebuttably presumed to be under the age of 16.  If the child who is depicted as engaging in, or who is caused to engage in, a prohibited sexual act or simulation of a prohibited sexual act is under the age of 16, the actor shall be strictly liable and it shall not be a defense that the actor did not know that the child was under the age of 16, nor shall it be a defense that the actor believed that the child was 16 years of age or older, even if such a mistaken belief was reasonable.

     c.     Any person who fails to notify the appropriate law enforcement agency of the death or disappearance of a child under the person’s legal duty of care within 24 hours from when the person knew or should have known of that death or disappearance is guilty of a crime of the third degree and, notwithstanding the provisions of subsection a. of N.J.S.2C:43-6, the term of imprisonment shall include a mandatory minimum term of three years, during which time the defendant shall be ineligible for parole.

(cf: P.L.2001, c.291, s.1)

 

     2.    N.J.S.2C:28-4 is amended to read as follows:

     a.     Falsely incriminating another.  A person who knowingly gives or causes to be given false information to any law enforcement officer with purpose to implicate another commits a crime of the fourth degree.

     b.    Fictitious reports.  A person commits a disorderly persons offense if he:

     (1)   Reports or causes to be reported to law enforcement authorities an offense or other incident within their concern knowing that it did not occur; or

     (2)   Pretends to furnish or causes to be furnished such authorities with information relating to an offense or incident when he knows he has no information relating to such offense or incident.

     c.     Concealing death or disappearance of child.  A person having a legal duty of care over a child who knowingly conceals the death or disappearance of that child by providing false information to a law enforcement officer with purpose to obstruct, delay, prevent, or impede an investigation of the death or disappearance of the child shall be guilty of a crime of the second degree.

     For the purposes of this subsection, the term “child” means any person under 16 years of age.

(cf: N.J.S.2C:28-4)

 

     3.    This act shall take effect immediately.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This bill would establish new penalties for failing to report or concealing the death or disappearance of a child.

     The bill adds a provision to the State’s law on endangering the welfare of a child to make it a crime of the third degree for a person to fail to notify the appropriate law enforcement agency of the death or disappearance of a child under the person’s legal duty of care within 24 hours from when the person knew or should have known of that death or disappearance.  Third degree crimes are generally punishable by a fine of up to $15,000, a term of imprisonment of three to five years, or both, but under the bill, a person convicted of this crime would have to serve at least three years before being eligible for parole.

     The bill also establishes as a crime of the second degree concealing the death or disappearance of child under a person’s legal duty of care.  A person is guilty of this crime if that person provides false information to a law enforcement officer with purpose to obstruct, delay, prevent, or impede an investigation of the death or disappearance of the child.  Crimes of the second degree are punishable by a fine of up to $150,000, a term of imprisonment of five to 10 years, or both.

     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 the case, Caylee Anthony was missing for 31 days before her disappearance was reported by her grandmother.  Her grandmother's report to authorities came only after Casey Anthony finally admitted that the child was missing. During the ensuing missing person investigation, Casey Anthony lied to law enforcement concerning Caylee Anthony's whereabouts; these false statements are the only offenses of which Casey Anthony was convicted in the case.  This bill addresses this situation by imposing new penalties on anyone who endangers the welfare of a child by failing to report that child’s death or disappearance or who conceals such death or disappearance.