TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Casey Anthony was sentenced to almost four years in jail for making four separate false statements to police. Since her acquittal on first degree murder charges in the murder of her daughter, there has been an outcry for stronger penalties for failing to report a child missing.
Manatee County Sheriff’s Major Connie Shingledecker conceded that cases of failing to report are rare, as she testified before the Select Committee on Protecting Florida’s Children. “This would be a great opportunity to pursue a felony version of this particular statue, where the child has suffered great harm because of the lack of reporting by the parent.”
Others, like the FDLE's Mike Rammage, offered words of caution. “Be very deliberative in reacting to one particular case.”
In the end, deputies and prosecutors concluded that stronger penalties could be useful when police believe someone is lying.
“We generally would stop them right then and there on the spot and say, listen we want to make sure you understand that giving false information during this serious investigation could be a felony,” Maj. Shingledecker said.
If there was a consensus in the committee, it is that any new law shouldn’t have a timeline of 24 or 48 hours for reporting a child missing.
It also appears the felony charge might only apply in certain circumstances.
“Instances where there is ultimately great bodily harm or death to a child,” said Republican State Sen. Joe Negron of Palm City.
Caylee Anthony was missing for 36 days before her grandmother reported her missing.
Nationally, only one-tenth of one percent of the children reported missing are found deceased.
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