Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Caylee's Law Would Be Just That - A Law Just For Caylee

It seems that some well-meaning legislators in my home state of Georgia are considering legislating and enacting "Caylee's Law" to avoid an occurrence similar to the recent case in Florida. The law would make it a felony for parents, caretakers or legal guardians to fail to report a child missing within 24 hours of the time they become aware the child is gone.

As you probably know from the ad nauseum coverage and analysis of the Casey Anthony trial in Florida, Caylee's mother (Casey) failed to report her child missing for a month. Many of the "legal experts" and analysts believe that Ms. Anthony was found not guilty of murder because of a lack of physical evidence directly caused by the amount of time it took to find her daughter's body. In essence, some believe Ms. Anthony's failure to report her daughter missing allowed her to literally get away with murder.

If Florida had a version of Caylee's Law on the books would it have mattered? It certainly wouldn't have mattered for Caylee. Whoever killed Caylee wasn't deterred by Florida's death penalty, so an additional, lesser penalty would not have an effect. And that brings us to the crux of the matter.

Casey Anthony has been booked into the Orange ...Image via Wikipedia
Casey Anthony

Caylee's Law isn't about deterrence of a crime. It's about punishment. The public sentiment is that the four-year prison sentence for Casey Anthony is inadequate. That sentence was for Ms. Anthony lying directly to police on four separate topics in one conversation; one year per lie. It was not a sentence for killing another human being.

Advocates want additional punishment for Casey Anthony because they believe she committed the terrible crime of killing her own daughter. The jury did not find Casey Anthony guilty of murder; however, and her sentence reflects that fact.

With no witnesses, no video or audio proof and with no forensic evidence of the cause of death, the place of death, the exact date of death or - if it was murder - the person who committed the crime, the prosecution sought a conviction of first-degree murder. Believing that someone probably committed a crime is not the same as having the crime proven beyond a shadow of a doubt, especially if the penalty is potentially a death sentence. The prosecution failed to prove its case.

Could the prosecution have proven a lesser charge? We'll never know, but it is a very real possibility. If that had happened, there would be no calls for Caylee's Law.

The fact that a district attorney in Florida overreached is not a reason for Georgia or any other state to add another law on its books. If this law is passed and it is enforced, there will almost certainly be a time when well-meaning parents or grandparents find themselves prosecuted for things that legislators never really intended.

As parents, we all know that children, especially teenagers, often do childish things and lie to those who would protect them. When the responsible adults make decisions based upon those lies, it could place them squarely in the cross-hairs of a local prosecutor.

Caylee's Law is a good example of well-meaning people doing bad while attempting to do good. Caylee's Law will do nothing to either return Caylee or to punish Casey. It could, in the future; however, cause harm to those the law never intended to punish - and that's a crime we can prevent.

by Ken Carroll

Enhanced by Zemanta

No comments:

Post a Comment

Blog Directory