by Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
The opening of the 2012 legislative session will be presented with enacting Caylee’s Law.
HB4 also know as Caylee’s Law is sponored in the House by Representative Juandalyn Givan (D) 60th District (Jefferson).
Ms. Givan, an attorney as well as lawmaker, says that she became committed to passing Caylee’s Law in Alabama after the acquittal of Caylee’s mother Casey Anthony.
The bill has passed out of The House Judiciary Committee but has yet made it to the floor for a vote by the full House.
“Everyone is familiar with the situation in Florida with the Casey Anthony trial in which, of course, she was acquitted of murdering [her daughter].” Givan said, there was an outpouring of requests from the public for a law that address some of the issues surrounding the failure of anyone from reporting Caylee’s disappearance within a reasonable timeframe.
“As an attorney I wanted to see a rule of law applied in the judicial process,” said Givan. “Think about it, there was a loophole in the law because of the fact that she [Casey Anthony] failed to report her child missing after a reasonable time.”
Givan says she believes that there is a time when a reasonable, prudent person would think of reporting their child missing and that the current laws do not force the issue of reporting the missing child in a reasonable time.
“So, as a result, I felt like we are here to protect our children, I am not of the mindset that they can protect themselves,” said Givan.
Givan points out that if a child is abducted that law enforcement is the best agency prepared to find the child and even if the child is found too late then the police are there to preserve evidence that could lead to convicting the perpetrator of the crime.
Around the country, many versions of Caylee’s Law have been proposed after Florida mother Casey Anthony was found not guilty of first-degree murder or manslaughter of her two-year-old daughter, Caylee.
One of the major sticking points of the Casey Anthony case was the fact that Anthony never notified law enforcement that her daughter was missing. This withholding of information from law-enforcement led to Anthony being found guilty of four counts of the misdemeanor crime of lying to investigators.
Under Alabama HR4, failure to report a missing child 12 years of age or under would be a felony
The bill would also make it a felony to issue a false report to law enforcement concerning a missing child. Failure to report the death of a child would result in a class C felony charge. Critics of the bill have stated that the bill might be unconstitutional under the 5th amendment as well as pointing out that many children go missing for periods of time only to show-up later.
Givan says that the current law in inadequate to address cases such as Casey Anthony’s. That putting laws with punishment in affect will make people think before not reporting a missing child, giving law enforcement the advantage of finding the child or punishing those who harm or fail to protect the state’s children.
“This law will serve as a deterrent,” said Givan, “a law is to deter someone or make someone think or make someone act differently with conformity with the rule or regulation thereof. You know you are always going to have someone that stands in opposition but this is for the greater good and the greater cause, that is why this issue is on the table and the support is overwhelming.”
Senator Bryan Taylor (R-Prattville) is sponsoring a similar bill in the Alabama Senate.