|Governor Rick Scott signs “Caylee’s Law”|
|Thursday, 12 April 2012 12:53|
Last week, Governor Rick Scott signed into law measure HB 37, known as "Caylee's Law," which imposes severe penalties for lying to law enforcement during a missing child investigation.
Introduced by Representative Bill Hager of Boca Raton, the law found its origins in the tragic 2008 death of two-year-old Caylee Anthony in Orlando. Her mother Casey Anthony lied to police about the missing Caylee.
The new law increases this offense from a misdemeanor to a third-degree felony, and the maximum penalty from one year to five years in prison. Each count would also attract up to $5,000 in fines.
Casey Anthony, the sole suspect charged for Caylee's murder, was freed of murder charges in 2011, but was charged with four counts of lying to the police. Anthony was charged four years in prison for the then first degree misdemeanor. She however was released for time served. Under penalty of the new law however, Anthony would have been sentenced to 20 years in prison and would have paid a $20,000 fine.
"Caylee's Law" was one of several criminal justice bills signed into law by Governor Scott last week. The other laws included one on human trafficking, and another authorizing the state to pay funeral expenses for children who die while in state custody.
The latter law, measure HB 173, was in reaction to the death of Eric Perez, 18, in a juvenile detention center in West Palm Beach County. The state's chief financial officer, Jeff Atwater, initially refused to pay for the teenager's funeral expenses, arguing that the state was not legally required to make such payments, despite the agency's longstanding tradition of paying in such circumstances. The state eventually paid Perez's family $5,000 of the total $7,600 in funeral expenses.
Another law, measure HB 947, sets a 10-year minimum sentence for possession of a firearm during a burglary of a conveyance, aggravated assault, or possession of a firearm by a felon. This increases the original three-year minimum sentence.
Governor Scott however vetoed measure HB 177, which would have allowed prisoners convicted of non-violent charges to be released after completing 85 percent of their sentence, if they enroll in intensive substance abuse programs.
"Justice to victims of crime is not served when a criminal is permitted to be released early from a sentence imposed by the courts," argued Scott.