Legislation stemming from a sexual abuse cover-up at Penn State University and the death of 2-year-old Caylee Anthony in Orlando are among about 30 new Florida statutes effective Monday.
Public or private colleges and universities could be fined up to $1 million for knowingly failing to report child abuse under a wide-ranging child protection law. It requires any individual suspecting a child has been abused to report it to the Florida Abuse Hotline (1-800-962-2873) or 911 if there's an immediate danger.
Another new law will increase the maximum penalty for knowingly making a false statement to police about a missing child, such as Caylee, from a year in jail to five years in prison.
In other legislation, a bill amends an existing stalking statute by revising definitions related to stalking, primarily the definition of "credible threat." The legislation essentially lowers the threshold of what is considered stalking.
It is now a crime to send threatening text messages or verbally threaten someone. The law also establishes a cause of action for an injunction for protection against stalking and cyberstalking, provides procedures and protections for obtaining a temporary or final injunction against stalking or cyberstalking, provides a first-degree misdemeanor penalty for violating an injunction against stalking or cyberstalking, and requires the court to consider issuing an injunction restraining a defendant from victim contact for up to ten years.