Casey Anthony case prompts Senate committee to recommend harsher penalties for lying about missing childrenby Dara Kam | November 3rd, 2011
A special Senate committee created in response to the murder of two-year-old Caylee Anthony and subsequent acquittal of her mother Casey wants to make it a felony to lie to law enforcement officials when a child goes missing and is hurt or killed, punishable by five years in prison.
Senate Select Committee on Protecting Florida’s Children Chairman Joe Negron, R-Stuart, proposed the measure heightening penalties under current law, now a misdemeanor for lying to law enforcement officials investigating crimes. Instead, Negron’s measure would make it a third-degree felony for anyone to “knowingly and willfully” give false information to law enforcement officers conducting an investigation involving a child 16 years of age or younger.
Casey Anthony was acquitted of murdering her daughter, two-year-old Caylee Anthony, this summer but convicted of four counts of misleading law enforcement officers. An Orlando judge sentenced Anthony to four years behind bars – one for each count of lying to police officers – and she was released earlier this year after serving three years.
Under Negron’s proposal, Anthony could have been sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Anthony’s acquittal prompted Florida legislators to file a flurry of “Caylee’s Law” measures, but Negron said he did not want to craft a new law specifically in response to the Anthony verdict. Unlike the other bills, Negron said he would not attach the child’s name to the measure.
“But the bottom line is, if your child is missing and you’re intentionally and willfully misleading law enforcement, that’s evil behavior and it won’t be tolerated. By making it a third-degree felony, I think we’re making that statement,” he said.
Anthony, now 25, was convicted of lying to investigators about working at a Universal Studios theme park, about leaving her daughter with an imaginary nanny, about leaving the child with friends and about receiving a telephone call from her.