Senate panel okays bill related to "Caylee's Law"

Published March 12, 2013

TALLAHASSEE — A bill that would increase penalties for lying to law enforcement was passed by a Florida Senate panel on Monday in a law that closely resembles "Caylee's Law."

The Criminal Justice committee passed the measure (SB 400) 6-0. It increases the penalty for the second and all subsequent offenses of giving false information to law enforcement about a crime.

The bill raises the penalty to a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years. First offenses remain first-degree misdemeanors.

"Additional offenses should deserve increased penalties," said Sen. Thad Altman, a Viera Republican on the committee. "When you have repeat offenders, you have to ratchet up the consequences."

The bill's standards of evidence include:

• The false information is in an audio recording;

• Another person was present and heard the information; or

• The accused person wrote down the information.

Caylee's Law addresses false information in a missing person investigation with intent to mislead or impede.

The changes were inspired by 2-year-old Caylee Anthony's death. Caylee's mother — Casey Anthony — was acquitted of murdering the girl who wasn't reported missing until 31 days after she vanished in 2008.

After she disappeared, Anthony told investigators that a babysitter had kidnapped her daughter. She also said she worked at Universal Studios, that she had told co-workers about Caylee's disappearance and that she had recently received a telephone call from her daughter.

All of those statements were lies and were used to convict her on misdemeanor charges. An appellate court later reversed two of the four convictions, saying they constituted double jeopardy.