As I originally suspected, there is a very good chance that this law is very prone to abuse and misuse. Wendy McElroy reports on a potential problem:
The laws being drafted from Florida to California vary in their specifics. For example, some laws demand that a parent or guardian notify the authorities of a child's death within one hour; others allow two hours. The proposed bill in Florida, which is ground zero for Caylee's law, can be viewed as a model.
Under the proposed bill, HB37,
A caregiver who willfully or by culpable negligence fails to make contact with or otherwise verify the whereabouts and safety of a child in his or her care who is 12 years of age or younger for a period of 48 hours and to immediately report the child as missing to law enforcement after this 48-hour period expires without contact commits: (1) A felony of the second degree if the child suffers great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement while missing; or (2) A felony of the third degree in any other circumstance.
According to Florida statutes, a second-degree felony is punishable by a $10,000 fine and 15 years imprisonment; a third degree felony is punishable by a $5,000 fine and 5 years imprisonment. Similar penalties befall those who make false statements to the police or do not report a child's death within two hours. (There are some exceptions, such as deaths occurring in a hospital.)
Fifth, as libertarian commentator Radley Balko observed,
It isn't difficult to come up with other scenarios where innocent people may get ensnared in Caylee's Law.… You're camping with your family when your son goes missing. One of your other children says she last saw him swimming in a lake. You spend several hours frantically looking for him before discovering that, tragically, he has drowned. You call the police. Under Caylee's Law, is this a "missing child" case, or a "dead child" case? Do you get charged with a felony for not notifying authorities within an hour of your son's drowning, or are you afforded the 24-hour window from the time you noticed he went missing?
Now, what do you think the odds are that this legislation is used to ensnare innocent parties while being impotent to address the truly guilty? America has gone mad with legislation. Citizens have time and again allowed themselves to be persuaded into supporting tyrannical laws. For too long they have listened to the inane nattering and manufactured outrage of a media to puerile and shallow to understand anything deeper than base, fleeting emotions. The American people, therefore, deserve the oppression that will inevitably be visited upon them.