Caylee's Law

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A map of the legal status of Caylee's Law in the United States.
  States with law signed by governor
  States with bill passed legislature, sent to governor
  States with bill in legislature

Caylee's Law is the unofficial name for proposed bills in several U.S. states that would make it a felony for a parent or legal guardian to fail to report a missing child, in cases where the parent knew or should have known that the child was possibly in danger.[1][2] The bill was introduced shortly after the high profile Casey Anthony trial, due to Anthony not reporting her two-year-old daughter Caylee Marie Anthony missing for a period of 31 days.[3]


The idea for the bill originated with protesters who disagreed with the jury's verdict in the case. Anthony was found not guilty of first degree murder, aggravated child abuse, and aggravated manslaughter of a child on July 5, 2011.[4] Immediately after the trial, support appeared for imposing requirements on parents to notify law enforcement of the death or disappearance of a child and make a parent or guardian's failure to report their child missing a felony.[5][6] One petition, written by Michelle Crowder on, has gained over 1,261,130 electronic signatures as of July 19, 2011.[7] In response to this and other petitions, lawmakers of Florida, Oklahoma, New York, North Carolina,[8] Ohio[9] and West Virginia began drafting versions of "Caylee's Law".

Legal status[edit]

State Bill Date approved Notes
Alabama SB1[10] 2013-06-10[11] Punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
Connecticut HB 5512[12] Not yet approved Passed by senate.[13]
Florida HB 37[14] 2012-04-06 Punishable by up to five years in state prison.[15]
Illinois SB 2537[16] 2012-08-24 Public Act 097-1079[17]
Kansas HB 2534[18] 2012-05-16
Louisiana HB 600[19] 2012-06-01 Act No. 454[20]
New Jersey A 4297[21] 2012-01-05 A fourth-degree crime (felony).
North Carolina HB 149[22] 2013-05-17[23] Session Law 2013-52[24]
Oklahoma SB 1721 Not yet approved Approved by the Senate.[25]
South Dakota SB 43[26][27] 2012-03-19
Virginia HB 494[28] Not yet approved Introduced by Richmond Delegate Rosalyn R. Dance.
Wisconsin AB 397[29] 2012-04-09

Notable cases[edit]

In South Dakota, two people were charged with failure to report the death of two-year-old Rielee Lovell under the new law.[30] The defense attorney for Laurie Cournoyer claimed that the law violated his client's right against self-incrimination, saying "essentially what the state has done is criminalized a citizen's right to remain silent."[31]


Some oppose Caylee's Law, claiming it to be unconstitutional. Many claim it violates the 5th Amendment and will mostly harm innocent parents. The laws as proposed do not distinguish the cause or place of death, so that parents who lose children due to sudden illnesses in the hospital are still liable to report the death within 24 hours to the local police or face felony charges in addition to the sudden tragic loss of their children.[32] One critic noted the law could lead to overcompliance and false reports by parents wary of becoming suspects, wasting police resources and leading to legitimate abductions going uninvestigated during the critical first few hours. Additionally innocent people could get snared in the law for searching for a child instead of immediately calling police.[33]


  1. ^ "Representatives file Caylee’s Law". CFNews. 7 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-07-08. 
  2. ^ "Caylee's Law". National Conference of State Legislatures. 
  3. ^ "Florida lawmakers introduce 'Caylee's Law' in response to case". St. Petersburg Times (News Service of Florida). 7 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-07-08. 
  4. ^ "Casey Anthony found not guilty of murder of Caylee Anthony; many shocked by verdict". The Washington Post. 6 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-07-08. 
  5. ^ Riparbelli, Laura (7 July 2011). "Casey Anthony Trial Aftermath: 'Caylee's Law' Drafted in 4 States". ABC News. Retrieved 2011-07-07. 
  6. ^ "Anthony verdict inspires new law". Christian Post. 
  7. ^ Crowder, Michelle (5 July 2011). "Create Caylee's Law". Retrieved 2011-07-19. 
  8. ^ Staff reporter (2011-07-18Include the State of Illinois as states who passed Bills making Caylee's Law a Felony. See History edit.). "Lawmakers Look To Pass Caylee’s Law In NC". WSOC-TV. Retrieved 2013-06-15. 
  9. ^ "Ohio lawmakers introduce 'Caylee's Law'". The Associated Press. 1 Sep 2011. 
  10. ^ "Alabama SB1". 
  11. ^ "Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley signs Caylee's Law". WRBL. 
  12. ^ "Connecticut HB 5512". 
  13. ^ "Sen. Kissel: CT Version of "Caylee’s Law" Passes Legislature". Connecticut Senate Republicans. 
  14. ^ "Florida HB 37". 
  15. ^ Heller,Dave (9 April 2012). "New Law Results From Death Of Caylee Anthony". First Coast News. 
  16. ^ "Illinois SB 2537". 
  17. ^ "Illinois Public Act 097-1079". 
  18. ^ "HB 2534". Kansas Legislature. 
  19. ^ "Louisiana HB 600". 
  20. ^ "Louisiana Act No. 454". 
  21. ^ "New Jersey A 4297". 
  22. ^ Hastings, Kelly E. (2011-05-08). "HB 149: An Act to Make It a Criminal Offense to Fail to Report the Disappearance of a Child to Law Enforcement, to Increase the Criminal Penalty for Concealing the Death of a Child, to Increase the Criminal Penalty for Making a False, Misleading, or Unfounded Report to a Law Enforcement Agency or Officer for the Purpose of Interfering or Obstructing an Investigation Involving a Missing Child or Child Victim of a Class A, B1, B2, or C Felony, and to Make It a Class 1 Misdemeanor for a Person to Fail to Report the Abuse, Neglect, Dependency, or Death Due to Maltreatment of a Juvenile.". North Carolina General Assembly. Retrieved 2013-06-15. 
  23. ^ staff (2013-05-17). "Governor McCrory Takes Action on Legislation". Office of the Governor. Retrieved 2013-06-15. 
  24. ^ "North Carolina Session Law 2013-52". 
  25. ^ "Oklahoma Senate Approves Caylee's Law". 
  26. ^ "Bill History Report". South Dakota Legislature. 2012-03-20. "SB 43" 
  27. ^ "SB 43". South Dakota Legislature. 
  28. ^ "HB 494 Death of child; parent, guardian, etc., failure to report to local law-enforcement agency, etc.". Retrieved 28 January 2012. 
  29. ^
  30. ^ Courtney Zieller. "Wagner adults arrested for 2-year-old's death, admitted to using meth/pot". KSFY-TV. 
  31. ^ Kristi Eaton (11 September 2012). "Lawyer Challenges Death Reporting Law". 
  32. ^ Proposed “Caylee’s Law” Generates Virtual Frenzy
  33. ^ Radley Balko, Why 'Caylee's Law' Is A Bad Idea, Huffington Post, July 11, 2011.