Senator JEFF VAN DREW
District 1 (Cape May, Atlantic and Cumberland)
Requires prompt notification of death or disappearance of a child.
CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT
An Act concerning the death or disappearance of a child, 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:
[Any] a. Except as provided in subsection b. of this section, 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 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 person died.
Any person who shall willfully neglect or refuse to report such 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 person, or touch, remove or disturb the clothing upon or near such body, is a disorderly person.
b. A person is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree for violating subsection a. of this section if the death of a child is not reported within two hours of when the person became aware of the death. For the purposes of this subsection, a “child” means a person 13 years of age or younger.
(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 impose penalties for failing to report the death of a child or a missing child.
Under current law, a person who becomes aware of a death by criminal violence, accident, or suicide is required to report that death to the county medical examiner, the State Medical Examiner, or the police department in the municipality 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 make it a crime of the fourth degree if a person fails to report the death of a child within two hours. 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 to authorities. This bill addresses this situation by imposing penalties on anyone who fails to promptly report a child’s death or notify authorities when his or her child is missing.