The state Senate today approved legislation requiring parents or guardians to report that a child has gone missing within a 48-hour period. Authored by Sen. Ralph Shortey, “Caylee’s Law” was motivated by the 2011 trial of Casey Anthony, who was convicted of lying to police regarding the disappearance of her daughter.
Senate Bill 1721 would create a felony for failing to report a child’s disappearance to law enforcement. The bill states that a parent or guardian of anyone 15 years or younger would have to report the missing person within 48 hours or face a felony punishable of up to 10 years in state prison. The bill also includes those who fail to report the death of a person 15 or younger as well as impeding an investigation in the death or disappearance of such a child.
“The Casey Anthony case created a nationwide groundswell of support for stronger penalties for lying to police about missing children,” said Shortey, R-Oklahoma. “People all over the country knew that child deserved better, and that the punishment didn’t fit the crime. My hope is that we can prevent similar injustices from occurring in Oklahoma.”
Shortey said the state currently has few statutes relating to failure to report a missing child.
“The intent of the measure is to close a loophole that may allow a parent or guardian to cover up a crime,” Shortey said. “If parents have harmed their child in some way, the District Attorney would have a way to go after them under this bill. Right now, we don’t have that.”
Rep. Joe Dorman, co-author of the measure, said the bill would implement an important safeguard for children.
“Given the outcry from the public this summer, there is obviously a need to make sure we address this issue,” said Dorman, D-Rush Springs. “This legislation is a responsible solution to make sure the safety of our children is of the utmost importance not only to our families but to law enforcement as well.”
Senate Bill 1721 now advances to the full Senate for consideration.