Representative Michelle Ugenti aims to toughen missing person reports

CONTACT: Daniel Scarpinato

“Caylee’s Law” would make it a Class 5 Felony to fail to report a child missing

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX (Nov. 22, 2011) – In an effort to protect missing children, state Representative Michelle Ugenti (Republican, District-8) has introduced House Bill 2018 to make it a class 5 felony if a parent fails to report that a child under six years of age has gone missing.

Part of a national movement to tighten missing person reports when it comes to small children, the legislation is titled “Caylee’s Law,” a response to the disappearance and murder of Caylee Anthony, a Florida infant. The bill was drafted with the assistance of the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office.

Representative Ugenti’s bill requires that a parent, stepparent, guardian or person who has the care of custody of a minor under six years of age to immediately report the child missing after a 24 hour period.

“Arizona children need to be protected and if one goes missing it’s vital that police begin the search process before the child is put in danger or their life is at risk,” Ugenti said. “This bill is a reasonable and enforceable way to protect young children and hold accountable those parents and adults who fail to live up to their responsibilities.”



  1. I understand the urgency to protect children, but it looks like Ugenti wants the “Village” to be responsible for each child. Is this the best our legislators can come up with to make govt more accountable and less intrusive?
    Is the next step to make it illegal to fail to have a college fund for the child? Parents have the responsibility of taking care of the child. If they abuse or neglect them, there are plenty of laws on the books to use to get them in line.

  2. After considering my previous comments, I must elaborate. Do taxpayers really need to regulate when someone reports their chiild missing? I think we should use social pressure and our good common sense to get more people to raise responsible adults, and then we dont need laws to protect their children in this way. I dont know who Caylee Anthony was, but I am sure it was a tradgedy that she was killed.
    I am just stunned that a republican would institutionalize the notion that a responsible adult would fail to report a child missing.

  3. I get what you are saying but any reasonable parent would make this report within 24 hours of learning the child is missing. If they don’t, they are probably responsible. At the very least, they are allowing the trail to go cold for the police. That is tantamount to interfering with a police investigation. So I can’t fault her for introducing this bill.

  4. I agree with Fred. Punishing people for failing to comply with an arbitrary time frame is a bad idea. If enacted it provides the government industrial punishment complex with one more hammer with which to arrest and jail parents. There are already plenty of tools in the government holster that are regularly used on a daily basis without one more being added.
    And just in case Ugenti hasn’t been told lately but imprisoning parents (not to mention putting them on trial) tax money, tax money. Arizona doesn’t have much and needs to imprison murderers, rapists and muggers, not one more parent who has failed to obey the latest in “one more law”-ism.

  5. This is the first I have heard of Ugenti since the election last year. Now that I see her problem-solving skills, that’s fine with me. While the legislature is not in session, there is a high profile case right now involving this issue.

    It sounds like we need this new law because when the cops and prosecutors and judge and jury can’t decide (no evidence) if the parent is guilty, they can at least go felony charges on the failure to report the kid missing. Well ain’t that a nice way to put the bad guy behind bars…and remove the cops’ motivation to actually find the kid.

  6. North Valley Patriot says

    The only parent NOT reporting a child missing within a few hours, not to mention 24 hours, is the parent who is responsible for that child going missing. Letting them delay police involvement while the trail is still warm by failing to report the disappearance is a horrible idea, and I’m glad that this bill is being run. Ugenti is a very solid conservative, so I trust she will ensure that the bill is properly written. And if you haven’t heard of Caylee Anthony, then you don’t know the name of the victim from the Casey Anthony trial. In our society we make famous the criminals and forget the names of the victims (if we ever learn them at all). Hopefully Ugenti’s law will put the focus back on the victims and will help the police to find those that are missing in the future.

  7. I’m surprised that a parent couldn’t already be charged with child neglect under existing law. Does anyone actually know if child neglect laws cover this?

  8. I think the devil is in the details of this bill. Exactly how is “missing” defined? When does the clock start on the 24 hours? I can think of a lot of ambiguous situations where it would not be clearly obvious that someone was missing within a 24 hour period.

    Also, would this case even effectively deal with someone like Casey Anthony? According to both the prosecution and the defense, Caylee, her daughter, was never really “missing”. She was dead. The only question was whether her death was a murder. If someone’s kid is dead and they know it, how can they be prosecuted for not reporting that kid has been missing? The kid in that case isn’t missing. The kid is dead.

    I guess if the circumstances were different and the authorities had never found the body, they could have charged Anthony for waiting to report her kid missing. But I don’t see how that is would deter anyone else who already decided to cover up the fact that their kid was dead, especially if it was a murder.

    And in the end, the only charge that Casey Anthony was convicted of was lying to the police that her child was missing. So I am not sure how this law really improves anything.

    This law seems more like a reaction to a media event rather than a sober attempt to set public policy.

  9. Someone needs to sit down with Miss Ugenti and explain that making a law doesnt compel lawful behavior from criminals.
    VSB is right on when saying that this law will not deter anyone from doing harm to children. What disturbs me the most about Ugentis bill is that this is another politician looking for an emotional high profile issue that has no solution because there is no problem. She is looking for the political equivalent of quick, cheap and easy. She wants to introduce something, so she sees a news story and says to herself ” there ought to be a law”, when there really is not a need for it. Has law enforcement asked for this? My guess is that they wont, becuase it presumes that someone can docuement or prove when the child becomes missing and there is not a report and that there will be some investigation of that alone. Fat Chance. They will investigate the missing child, and they should use resources on that, but not to investigate why the parent didnt report. VSB, has pointed out that if they dont report, there is something else going on.

    Why do AZ legislators take our money in a paycheck and give us such abyssmally deficient product?

  10. Children belong to the state, right Michelle Ugenti?

    Parents only take care of the government’s future taxpayers, until the cows – er taxpayers – can begin paying taxes on their own.


    Another example of a false conservative.

    Michelle Ugenti – a “Hillary” (It Takes a Village) “conservative”.

    How about running a bill to CUT STATE SPENDING?

    • Do you know nothing about how state government budgets work? The Governor will release her budget plan, which may include cuts, in January. The JLBC will release a competing budget, although this is usually a steaming pile of crap because their staff does absolutely no research in the fall. The two competing budgets will frame budget negotiations. When there is an accord, budget bills will be drafted, voted out, and signed. These bills will include all negotiated cuts (and increases).

      Ugenti would be stupid to push her own bill because it would go nowhere. As a member of House Appropriations, she will have plenty of opportunity to influence the final Appropriations Bill for FY 2013. So running an independent “cut” bill would accomplish nothing more than to pander to people who don’t understand the process, like yourself.

  11. True Conservative says

    Here’s what is wrong with this legislation:

    1) It’s not designed to fix, remedy or punish bad behavior. Instead, it is designed solely to give the government an additional way to punish someone if the government fails to convict them on the larger crime. In other words, if they government can’t convict you of murder or kidnapping, it wants to have yet another way of putting you in jail. That’s just plain wrong. We pass laws to punish, correct or encourage behavior where a failure to behave properly has a deleterious affect on society, not as a pretext for giving the government a “plan b” if it fails on “plan a.”

    2) This is plain ol’ pandering. The Caylee case made headlines, got a bunch of people riled up, and now a do-nothing legislator wants to get some press.

    Drop the gimmicks, Ugenti, if you want to get re-elected, earn it by working on meaningful legislation. Constrict government power, don’t expand it, especially when you are doing it just to get some media exposure.

  12. Nordine Crub says

    Call me cynical but when I see Michelle Ugenti and other legislators trying to take advantage of a missing child like Caylee or little Jheseye in Glendale it is nothing more than grandstanding for votes.

    I’m not really sure how the Ugenti legislation would have changed either Caylee’s case or the tragedy that is developing in Glendale. Any parent that would kill their own child and then try to make it appear to be an abduction is off balance to begin with. Real grieving parents would report the missing child to police immediately.

  13. Veritas Vincit says

    To Michelle: this is a solution in search of a problem. Please read the ARS as it applies to this subject. Arizona already has laws on this issue. The only value you add to this is to enable a county attorney to stack up the charges on some unfortunate grand parents – please don’t grandstand. You must have some original ideas of your own?

  14. Nordine Crub says

    Since when have any of Constantine’s candidates had an original idea?

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