Following the national uproar surrounding the acquittal of Casey Anthony, the young Florida mother accused of murdering her 2-year-old daughter after not reporting the child missing to police, Michigan lawmakers are piggy-backing on a nationwide movement to enact “Caylee Anthony’s Law,” which would make it a crime to not report a minor missing or dead.
House Bill (HB) 4872, which has been referred to the state House Judiciary Committee and is co-sponsored by state Rep. Bill Rogers (R-Milford), would require that individuals responsible for the care of a child or minor and know them to be missing for 24 hours or dead to report that to police.
Penalties for a violation would be four years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000.
The law would not apply to a person responsible for the care of the minor or child if the death occurred while the minor was under the care of another person who is required by law to report the death, or if the individual is unable to report the death or disappearance of the minor, provided that he or she reports the child as missing or dead when they are able to do so.
As defined in the legislation, a child would be a person 13-years-old or younger, and a minor is defined as a person under 18-years-old — provisions that make state Rep. Lisa Brown (D-West Bloomfield, Commerce, Wolverine Lake) “curious,” even though she said such legislation is “important” for the state to enact.
“I’ve received many e-mails in my office to please implement this in Michigan,” she said. “I would think that this is going to pass without a problem.”
“The sad thing is that it is even necessary,” Rogers said. “This is something that is common sense and I can’t believe that nothing is basically in place. It’s embarrassing that we have to put a law out there (like this). I think it’s frustrating that we are even dealing with it.”
At least one member of the law enforcement community wants a discussion to take place about whether something along these lines should have legal consequences.
“It strikes me as being odd that someone would not report a missing loved one or child they are responsible for,” said West Bloomfield Township Police Chief Michael Patton. “Is it worthy to criminalize it? That will be worthy of a healthy debate.”
Staff in Judiciary Committee Chairman state Rep. John Walsh’s (R-Livonia) office said the panel’s calendar has yet to be set for when lawmakers return to Lansing on Wednesday, Aug. 24.