Senate makes not reporting a dead body a crime

LANSING—Michigan residents who fail to report the discovery of a deceased person could face a misdemeanor and a year in prison and a $1,000 fine, and a felony of up to 5 years and a $5,000 fine for not reporting one with the intent to hide or conceal that death or cause thereof under legislation passed today by the state Senate.

“It has shocked the public’s conscience that there is no crime for failing to report a dead body. It is important that we fix that,” said Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton, who sponsored the Senate Bill 231. “These measures would make it a misdemeanor to fail to report a death, and a felony if the person not reporting it did so to conceal the death while committing another crime, for example, like cashing the deceased's checks.”

The legislation stems in part from a case in Grand Rapids where, after being unable to contact her mother for several days, a claimant arrived at her mother’s residence to discover the woman’s boyfriend at the premises. The man had locked the mother’s dead body in an adjacent room and concealed the knowledge of her death for many days.

Sen. Dave Hildenbrand, who represents the district where the incident occurred, introduced Senate Bill 380, which establishes the sentencing guidelines for those convicted.

“It is illegal in Michigan to hide or dispose of a dead body, but it isn’t illegal to not report one,” said Hildenbrand, R-Lowell. “This legislation corrects that oversight by making those who fail to report a dead body criminally responsible.”

Kent County Assistant Prosecutor Timothy McMorrow testified in support of the measures during last month’s committee hearing.

SBs 231 and 380 now go to the state House for consideration.