Gov. Lee Signs Bill Into Law That Could Criminalize Parents Based On Anonymous Allegations Of Abuse Or Neglect

May 2, 2023 | Political News

Legislation to make it a criminal offense for families to hide children outside of the state when that child is in custody of the Department of Children’s Services (DCS) was officially signed into law by Governor Bill Lee on April 28th, 2023. 

Since DCS is not required to verify the credibility of anonymous sources making accusations of child abuse or neglect, this legislation could possibly make it easier to criminalize parents who have not committed such an offense. 

Not only will this legislation allow parents to be charged with a felony offense for failure to turn their child over to the state, it also looks to relieve DCS of having to properly notify parents about removal orders with the bill text stating that it is not a defense that “the person harboring or hiding the child has not been served with an actual copy of a protective custody order or emergency custody order.”

The primary concern here is that the bill seems to do away with basic due process, which gives a person the right to know about accusations made against them and allows them the ability to defend themselves in court.