Caylee's Law Gains Bipartisan Support, Passes the Assembly Floor

February 03, 2012

SACRAMENTO-AB 1432, dubbed Caylee's Law, passed the Assembly Thursday with overwhelming, bipartisan support. Caylee's Law would make it a misdemeanor in California to fail to report the death or disappearance of a child, aged 14 or younger, to law authorities within 24 hours. This legislation was inspired by the recent death of 2-year old Caylee Anthony, who was not reported missing for 31 days. Her mother, although acquitted of the charge of murder, evoked outrage nationwide for failing to report her child's disappearance.

The point of the bill is to hold parents accountable when they know their child is missing and in harm's way, said Assemblymember Mitchell. We want to make sure that law enforcement gets the opportunity to find a child that has been kidnapped or is in danger as soon as possible.

AB 1432 will create a two-tiered misdemeanor violation. When a child is missing under circumstances that should evoke fear of immediate harm, a parent or guardian who fails to report their child missing within 24 hours can be found guilty of a misdemeanor which is punishable by imprisonment in county jail for up to one year and/or a maximum fine of $2,000. If a child is missing under other circumstances, an adult who fails to report their missing child within 24 hours can be found guilty of a misdemeanor which is punishable by imprisonment in county jail for up to six months and/or a maximum fine of $1,000.

Assemblymember Mitchell, former CEO of Crystal Stairs, a statewide children's advocacy organization, has gathered bipartisan support for AB 1432. Law enforcement has known for years that the first 48 hours after a disappearance are critical to the chances of finding the child alive, and successfully prosecuting any related criminal behavior, said Assemblywoman Mitchell. My colleagues clearly agree with me that parents have a pro-active responsibility to assure the protection of their children. Delay can be deadly.

The bill is endorsed by the Child Abuse Prevention Center and Crime Victims United of California.

Caylee's Law was passed by the Assembly with a 67-3 vote. The measure will now be considered in the Senate.