Caylee's Law, a duty to protect childrenAre you a child care provider, scout leader or Sunday school teacher? If so, did you know that you may have a duty to report information about missing, abused or deceased children?

In 2013 North Carolina enacted “Caylee’s Law”, which is a statute similar to laws adopted in other states after the high-profile Casey Anthony trial. North Carolina’s law changed for offenses occurring on or after December 1, 2013, that involve the reporting of missing, abused or deceased children.

How Does Caylee’s Law Protect Children?

As of December 1, 2013, it is a crime for a parent/caregiver to fail to report a missing child. A person guilty of this offense:
1) is a parent or other person providing care to or supervision of a child and
2) knowingly or wantonly
3) fails to report the disappearance of a child to law enforcement

A person who commits this crime is charged with a Class I felony. A child for the purposes of this crime is a person less than 16 years old. A disappearance of a child occurs when the parent or supervising person does not know the child’s location or has not had contact with the child for 24 hours.

As of December 1, 2013, it is a crime for a person who suspects a child is in danger to fail to report that child missing. A person guilty of this offense:
1) reasonably suspects
a. the disappearance of a child and
b. that the child may be in danger and
2) fails to report those suspicions to law enforcement
3) within a reasonable time

A person who commits this crime is charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor. The statute does not define “may be in danger”, but does suggest that there must be some danger to the child other than the general danger associated with a 24-hour disappearance.

After December 1, 2013, a defendant that is accused of concealing the death of a child less than 16 years of age is charged with a Class H felony. If the person violates the statute knowing that the child did not die of natural causes, the offense is a Class D felony.

Know the Laws on Child Care Safety

Most parents and adults who provide care for children take their roles very seriously and would never purposefully keep important information regarding the safety of a child from law enforcement officers. However, it is still important that you be aware of the law and what your duty is.

Please call 919-615-2473 to contact a Raleigh attorney at Kirk, Kirk, Howell, Cutler & Thomas, L.L.P. if you have any questions about “Caylee’s Law”.

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Jeff is an experienced criminal defense attorney in Raleigh. He has effectively represented the citizens of Wake County and all over North Carolina since 1989.

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