New Fla. law now in effect inspired by Caylee Anthony

New law: Lying to police about a missing child now a felony

Published On: Oct 01 2012 05:33:42 PM EDT   Updated On: Oct 01 2012 08:34:04 PM EDT
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -

A change in state law that could have drastically altered the outcome of the Casey Anthony trial is now in effect.

The new law makes lying to police about a missing child a felony.

Casey Anthony is a free woman.

She finished her probation in August and her last known location is being kept from the public for her own protection.

“We are still not releasing that information just in case. We could be jeopardizing somebody’s life, somebody’s security," said Ann Howard, of the Department of Corrections.

Casey was found not guilty of murdering her daughter Caylee last year. The acquittal sparked public outrage.

“I think it was terrible what she did," said Paula Parth, who watched the trial.

Casey didn’t report Caylee missing for an entire month and was convicted on four counts of lying to police, a misdemeanor, until now.

Monday, a new law inspired by the Anthony trial, went into effect. Had it been in place before her trial, Casey could be in prison serving 20 years for lying to police.

From now on people who lie to police trying to find anyone under the age of 16 can be charged with a third-degree felony, carrying a penalty of five years behind bars.

“Quick reaction is vital," said Special Agent Carol Fredrick.

FDLE Special Agent Supervisor Carol Frederick says the new law gives investigators a better shot at finding missing kids quicker by helping to eliminate false leads.

“If somebody has reported a child missing, it is a serious matter and we all look. We don’t want people to cry wolf," Frederick said.

Even though Casey isn’t behind bars, she’s still paying for the death of her daughter. She’s broke and death threats have forced her to live in hiding.

When lawmakers began working on this legislation, it was called Caylee’s law. But the title was quickly changed. The sponsor wanted to make sure people knew it was being drafted broad enough to protect all Florida children.