New Jersey is one of several states with proposed bills that would allow criminal charges to be filed against parents who fail to report that a child is missing.
In New Jersey, Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean, Republican-Westfield, has introduced legislation that would make it a second-degree crime for parents not to report a missing child. The bill would allow criminal charges to be filed against parents who do not report a missing child within 24 hours or a dead child within one hour. Parents or caretakers who fail to do so could be charged with a felony.
Meanwhile, another New Jersey lawmaker, Assemblyman Rolf Caputo, Democrat-Essex, says that he will soon introduce a more stringent measure aimed at helping law enforcement trace missing children. This version will substantially reduce the time for reporting a missing child to 12 hours. Yet other another version by Sen. Nicholas J. Sacco, Democrat-North Bergen, will also seek to file criminal charges against parents of missing children who do not report the disappearance within 24 hours.
Several states are jumping on the bandwagon, riding on a popular wave of opposition to the verdict in the Casey Anthony case. Anthony had been placed on trial for the murder of her toddler daughter who disappeared in 2008. She had waited more than a month to report her daughter missing. A jury failed to convict her of murder earlier this month, sparking outrage. If a law like this had existed, she would likely have been convicted of failure to report her missing child.
Similar legislation is being introduced in at least 20 states around the country. In most states, the basic premise of the legislation is the same: parents who fail to report a dead or missing child can have criminal charges filed against them. It's only the timeframe that differs a little. For instance, California's proposal gives parents a timeframe of between 24 and 48 hours to report a missing child.
The New Jersey criminal defense lawyers at Helmer Paul Conley and Kasselman represent persons charged with DUI, drug crimes, sex crimes, fraud, assault and other crimes across New Jersey.