July 7, 2011— -- Just two days after a Florida jury found Casey Anthony not guilty of murdering her 2-year old daughter Caylee, four states are drafting legislation being referred to as "Caylee's Law," which would tighten requirements on missing persons reports.
Lawmakers in Florida, Oklahoma, New York and West Virginia have all announced that they will propose versions of the law. This comes at the same time that an online petition for a "Caylee's Law" went viral on Change.org, which has collected over 300,000 signatures.
Oklahoma Rep. Paul Wesselhoft said that the petition, created by Michelle Crowder of Durant, Okla., caught his eye and the eyes of his constituents.
"Yesterday, I got a lot of emails from my constituents who are very outraged by the trial and the verdict," Wesselhoft told ABCNews.com. "We're all outraged that Caylee did not receive justice. There's no question about that."
Wesselhoft, a Republican, plans to propose a law at the start of Oklahoma's legislative session in 2012 that would make it a felony for a parent of guardian not to notify authorities within 24 hours of a child's death. He also plans to propose a requirement for parents to notify runaways under the age of 12 in a timely manner, although he admits having a time table for that is "more difficult because you don't know when the clock starts," he said.
Four States Pushing for Caylee's Laws
"It probably won't be a deterrent to crime, but at least it's something the prosecutors can charge someone with who's violated the law," he said. "If this law was in Florida, Casey would have some more jail time to stand."
Legislation drafted in Florida by Rep. Bill Hager would also make it a felony offense for a parent who fails to report a missing child in a timely manner.
"One of the clouds that hung over this trial is that the mother for 31 days did not report her missing daughter and under Florida law, there's no provision that she violated," said Hagar. "She did not break the law by failing to report that child. This bill addresses exactly that issue."
Casey Anthony was acquitted of murder charges in an Orange County, Fla., courtroom on Tuesday. She was accused of murdering Caylee.
Caylee was missing for a month before grandmother Cindy Anthony reported her disappearance to police. Casey Anthony then claimed that a nanny abducted Caylee. She stuck to that story for three years until her lawyer said at her murder trial that Caylee accidentally drowned in the family pool.
She was convicted on four counts of lying to law enforcement officers and is scheduled to be released from jail next week.
Hager, who is a Republican, said he hopes to propose his version of Caylee's Law in the near future, with the intention that this will provide another basis for prosecutors to charge irresponsible parents.
"At least in the future, this [law] provides that it's a felony and additional charges will be brought against that individual. I believe that's important," said Hager.
Crowder's petition for a Caylee's law went viral quickly with currently over 300,000 signatures collected since Tuesday evening. Crowder created the petition on Change.org for a federal "Caylee's Law" after seeing a Facebook page proposing the law. When she saw that no petition had been created for the cause, she decided to start one herself.
The petition calls for a law that would make it a federal offense for a parent or guardian who does not notify police of a missing child within 24 hours. It also calls for felony charges if the death of their child is not reported within an hour of the incident.
"I am hoping that this will be made into a federal law so that no other child's life, disappearance, and/or death is treated in the manner that poor Caylee's was treated," said Crowder in a press release. "No child deserves that."
New York Assemblyman Felix Ortiz, a Democrat who is also proposing stricter requirements for parents reporting missing children, said he hopes a bill of this nature will plug what he called a loophole in the law.
"People need to understand that this needs to be reported ASAP. Otherwise, the consequences will be harsh," said Ortiz.