The Arizona Legislature is taking steps to increase penalties for not reporting a missing person to authorities, in an effort to protect missing children.
State Rep. Michele Ugenti, a Republican out of District 8, has introduced House Bill 2018 to make it a class 5 felony if a parent fails to report that a child under six years of age has gone missing.
The bill comes as part of a national movement to tighten missing person reports when it comes to small children. The legislation is title, “Caylee’s Law,” which is a response to the disappearance and murder of Caylee Anthony, a Florida infant. Anthony, a two-year old, went missing in 2008.
After a month, her mother, Casey Anthony reported her missing. Casey Anthony was later charged with first-degree murder after the infant’s remains were discovered. Casey Anthony was acquitted.
The bill was drafted with the assistance of the Maricopa County Attorney’s office. HB 2018 requires that a parent, guardian or person who has the care or custody of a minor under six years of age to immediately report the child missing after a 24-hour period.
“Arizona children need to be protected and if one goes missing it’s vital that police begin the search process before the child is put in danger or their life is at risk,’ said Ugenti. “This bill is a reasonable and enforceable way to protect young children and hold accountable those parents and adults who fail to live up to their responsibilities.”