Simmons’ ‘Caylee’s Law’ Bill Gains Committee Approval, Advances to House Floor

HARRISBURG – A bill sponsored by state Rep. Justin Simmons (R-Lehigh/Northampton), which would increase the penalties for the crime of concealing the death of a child, was reported out of the House Judiciary Committee today by a unanimous vote. House Bill 20 now heads to the House floor for consideration and a possible vote.

The legislation would upgrade the offense of concealing the death of a child to a third-degree felony and increase the maximum penalties to seven years in prison and a $15,000 fine. The measure also would clarify that the persons who can be charged with this offense are a parent, including a natural parent, stepparent, adoptive parent, guardian or paramour of the child’s parent; an individual residing in the same household as the child; or an individual responsible for the child’s welfare, including a babysitter, teacher or coach.  

“This legislation is in response to the highly publicized Caylee Anthony case in Florida several years ago,” said Simmons. “During the trial of Casey Anthony, the evidence disclosed that she waited almost a month before reporting her child was missing. That led to a national public outcry over Anthony’s concealment of little Caylee’s death, even if it was accidental as she claimed. We need to strengthen our laws here in Pennsylvania to discourage that kind of tragic behavior involving a young child from taking place here.”

Companion legislation (House Bill 494), sponsored by state Rep. Karen Boback
(R-Luzerne/Columbia/Wyoming), which would create the offense of failing to report the disappearance of a child, was also unanimously approved by committee members and sent to the House floor. Together the two bills are known as “Caylee’s Law.”

Simmons introduced similar legislation during the 2011-12 legislative session. House Bill 1842 was approved by the House, but failed to come up with a vote in the Senate. 

“Along with increasing penalties, my bill will make clear that anyone who is in a position of responsibility for a child commits a crime if he or she conceals their death,” said Simmons. “I am hopeful there is enough support this time around to strengthen the laws against those who commit crimes against our children.”

For more information on Simmons and his legislative priorities, visit or

Representative Justin Simmons
131st District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact:  Andy Briggs