The Fifth District Court of Appeal in Florida recently overturned two of Casey Anthony’s four convictions for Providing False Information to Law Enforcement during an Investigation. Just to refresh everyone’s memory, when Casey Anthony finally called the police to report her child missing, she spoke to a police detective in her home. During that interview she told police that she had dropped her daughter off at with a “nanny” at an apartment complex in Orlando (as it turned out there was no such nanny) and that she was employed at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida. As we all know neither of these statements were true.
Later that day, the Child custody lawyer and the detective met with Casey Anthony at Universal Studios where she led him on a “wild goose chase” and finally admitted that she did not work at Universal. She later voluntarily went to the police station where she told the detective that she told two of her friends that Caylee was missing and that she had received a phone call and spoken to her daughter on the phone on July 15, 2008. As we also know now, those were both lies.
After the not guilty verdict in the murder trial (note not guilty does not mean innocent), she was convicted of the four false information charges. Since they were misdemeanors, punishable by only up to a year in jail or a year probation, and she was sentenced to time already served, (since she had already been in jail for more than two years awaiting trial and she got credit for good behavior), along with the exorbitant costs of the investigation. ($217,000)
Interestingly when the Florida Legislature realized that the crime of providing false information to law enforcement was ONLY a 1st degree misdemeanor – they changed the law, effective October 1, 2012; to make it a 3rd degree felony to “knowingly and willingly give false information to law enforcement who are conducting a missing person investigation.” Thus, hopefully deterring future criminals from lying to the police. It is still only a 1st degree misdemeanor if you merely provide false information during an investigation that does not involve a missing person.
At the time Casey Anthony was prosecuted, these crimes were only misdemeanors. Interestingly though, adding insult to injury in this case, but following the law as good jurist should, the 5th DCA says that these 4 statements for which she was convicted, WERE NOT, separate crimes. They were separate “statements” and the law does not punish the “statement” but rather the “information” that was given falsely. To this end, there were only two separate times when she gave “false information” which were in the two interviews she gave to the detective. One at her home, and one the following day at the police station.
Sometimes the law is so technical, it’s even hard for lawyers to to decipher, which why there are Appellate courts. If you have questions about the technicalities of any Florida criminal law – call RGSG Law. We’d be happy to talk with you and hopefully find you an answer.