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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: January 27, 2017 10:56 AM
From: Representative Justin J. Simmons and Rep. Tarah Toohil, Rep. Jim Christiana, Rep. Karen Boback
To: All House members
Subject: Concealing Death of Child (Caylee's Law)
In the near future, I along with Representatives Toohil, Christiana and Boback, plan to re-introduce legislation which will amend Title 18 Section 4303, Concealing the Death of a Child, to change the grading of the offense from a misdemeanor of the first degree to a felony of the third degree. Along with making it a felony, this will increase the maximum penalty from the current 5 years and $10,000 fine to 7 years and a $15,000 fine. I will also add language to Section 4303 to ensure that the prohibition applies to a natural parent, stepparent, adoptive parent, guardian or custodian of a child.

As you know, during the highly publicized trial of Casey Anthony which took place in Florida, the evidence disclosed that Ms. Anthony waited almost a month before reporting her child, Caylee missing. She later claimed that Caylee had drowned accidentally but didn’t report it as she was afraid of her family’s reaction. Since then, there has been a public outcry over Ms. Anthony’s concealment of Caylee’s death, even if it were accidental as she claimed.

Pennsylvania law currently would prohibit the failure to report the death of a child who died under any circumstances, but a review of our statue discloses a possible loophole when the person responsible for the child is not the natural parent since Concealing the Death of a Child prohibits a person from concealing the death "of his or her child". Therefore, it could be interpreted to apply only to the biological parents.

Along with increasing penalties, my bill will close that loophole and will make clear that anyone who is in a position of responsibility for a child commits a crime if he or she conceals their death.

I hope you will consider supporting this legislation by signing on as a co-sponsor. If you have any questions, please contact my Harrisburg office at (717) 783-1673 or email at lnissly@pahousegop.com.

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Introduced as HB487