HARRISBURG — The state Legislature is taking one other have a look at laws impressed by the Casey Anthony case involving a Florida lady accused, however acquitted of murdering her daughter in 2011.
Caylee’s Legislation, named after Anthony’s daughter, would supply stiffer penalties for fogeys accused of concealing the demise of a kid. Comparable laws handed in Florida after the Anthony trial.
The laws would change the grading of the offense from a misdemeanor of the primary diploma to a felony of the third diploma. This could improve the utmost penalty from 5 years and a $10,000 superb to seven years and a $15,000 superb.
Along with growing the penalty for the offense, the invoice would additionally make clear that the accused doesn’t need to be one of many sufferer’s organic mother and father. Present regulation signifies that’s it’s unlawful for folks to hide the demise of “his or her youngster,” language that might be interpreted to imply that solely the mother and father of the sufferer will be charged, mentioned state Rep. Justin Simmons, R-Lehigh County, the writer of the Pennsylvania model of Caylee’s Legislation.
The transfer to broaden who will be charged for concealing the demise of a kid raised some concern amongst lawmakers and advocates. Two lawmakers – state Rep. Dan Miller, D-Allegheny County and state Rep. Michael Zabel, D-Delaware County — each mentioned the regulation may probably create a state of affairs the place a juvenile is charged for collaborating within the concealment of one other youngster’s demise. Regardless of these reservations, each voted to maneuver the invoice out of committee.
“District attorneys are prone to say they might train discretion in whether or not to cost a youth who resides within the youngster sufferer’s residence, however it appears simply as cheap to say the language, as drafted, deserves some additional scrutiny and fine-tuning,” mentioned Cathleen Palm, founding father of the Middle for Kids’s Justice, primarily based in Studying.
She mentioned there may be questions raised about whether or not it’s applicable to deal with concealing a toddler’s demise the identical no matter how the kid died. For example, a panicked father or mother would possibly conceal the unintentional demise of a kid, she mentioned.
“Ought to the language seize any time a toddler’s demise is hid no matter whether or not the demise was linked to ‘homicide’ or not?” Palm requested. However just like the lawmakers, she mentioned that it’s powerful to oppose the laws.
“After all it is smart and is so worthwhile for lawmakers to ship a robust message that PA not solely gained’t tolerate the homicide of a kid, but additionally will stand towards concealing the demise of a kid,” Palm mentioned.
The Casey Anthony verdict prompted on-line petitions nationally to name on states to toughen their legal guidelines concerning concealing the demise of youngsters, based on analysis accomplished by legislative employees in Connecticut. That analysis discovered variations of Caylee’s Legislation have been launched in 35 states. Connecticut was one among 9 states that joined Florida in passing variations of Caylee’s Legislation. The others embody: Alabama, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
“In the course of the extremely publicized trial of Casey Anthony which befell in Florida, the proof disclosed that Ms. Anthony waited nearly a month earlier than reporting her youngster, Caylee lacking,” Simmons mentioned in a memo in search of help from different lawmakers for the invoice. “She later claimed that Caylee had drowned unintentionally however didn’t report it as she was afraid of her household’s response.”
The Pennsylvania model of the laws handed the state Home thrice – unanimously, twice, in 2012 and 2013 and by a vote of 195-1 in 2015. In all three instances, the measure died within the Senate with out getting out of committee.
Simmons mentioned he hopes the measure has a greater likelihood of transferring within the Senate as a result of there’s a brand new chairman of the Senate judiciary committee. State Sen. Stewart Greenleaf, the previous chairman, retired on the finish of the 2017-18 legislative session. The judiciary committee is now chaired by state Sen. Lisa Baker, R-Luzerne County.
“Hopefully, we are able to get it via the Senate now,” Simmons mentioned.
The Pennsylvania laws is modeled after the Florida model of the Caylee’s Legislation.
Tuesday, the judiciary committee voted 24-1 to maneuver the laws to the complete state Home for the fourth time. Amongst these voting in favor of the measure was state Rep. Tedd Nesbitt, R-Mercer County.
“It’s primarily based on a sensational case and is meant to make sure that no particular person escapes justice” by concealing the demise of a kid, Nesbit mentioned.