Were You Charged with Elder Abuse?

Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer

Accusations of elder abuse in California can lead to serious criminal charges, jail time and a criminal record. The accusations alone can be devastating to your reputation. Protect yourself by contacting an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney who can take immediate measures to protect you.

Types of Elder Abuse

Physical abuse is the infliction of bodily injuries on an elderly person. Bodily injuries include but not limited to bruises, abrasions, fractures, burns and bleeding. Financial abuse is the taking (stealing) of an elder's money and misuse of credit cards and bank and savings accounts. It also includes the misuse of an elder's property (including real estate) and other assets.

Psychological abuse includes verbal assaults, threats, intimidation or isolation. Neglect is the failure by the caretaker or friend of the elder to provide basic needs such as food and clothing, shelter, medical care and personal hygiene products. Neglect also includes keeping the elder from having contact with family members or friends. In Los Angeles County, abuse of the elderly is aggressively prosecuted by a special unit in the District Attorney's Office.

Serious Legal Trouble in Elder Abuse Accusations

Elder Abuse (also known as "senior abuse") is generally defined as physical, psychological or financial abuse of an elderly person by a caretaker. However, the alleged victim need not be a senior citizen, but only dependent on someone for his or her care. California Penal Code section 368 protects elders and dependent adults and defines elder and dependent adult abuse as the following:

  • Physical Pain or Mental Suffering
    It is a crime for any person, under circumstances likely to produce great bodily harm, to willfully cause or permit an elder or dependent adult to suffer or willfully inflict unjustifiable physical pain or mental suffering on him or her. Generally this offense is a felony under circumstances likely to produce great bodily harm. If committed under circumstances not likely to produce great bodily harm then the offense is a misdemeanor.
  • Injury by Caretaker
    It is a crime for any caretaker or caregiver of an elder or dependent adult, under circumstances likely to produce great bodily harm, to willfully cause or permit the person or his or her health to be endangered. This offense is a felony unless the circumstances are not likely to produce great bodily harm.
  • Theft or Embezzlement
    It is a crime for any person or caretaker to steal, defraud or embezzle an elder's or dependent adult's property. This includes forgery, fraud, or identity theft against the property of an elder or dependent adult. This offense is a felony if the value of the property exceeds $950. If the value is less than $950 the offense is a misdemeanor.
  • False Imprisonment
    It is a crime to falsely imprison (restrain someone's freedom without consent) by the use of violence, menace, fraud or deceit. This offense is a felony.

California Law Definitions

"Elder" means any person who is 65 years or older. "Dependent adult" means any person who is between the ages of 18 and 64 who has physical or mental limitations which restricts his or her ability to carry out normal activities or to protect his or her rights, including but not limited to, persons who have physical or developmental disabilities or whose physical or mental abilities have diminished because of age. Dependent Adult also refers to any person between the ages of 18 and 64 who is admitted as an inpatient to a 24-hour facility.

Penalties and Sentencing

Penalties for dependent adult or elder abuse depend on the type of abuse that has been inflicted (i.e., physical injury, financial injury or false imprisonment). Dependent adult or elder abuse can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor, meaning it is a "wobbler." In deciding whether to file a dependent adult or elder abuse case as either a misdemeanor or felony, prosecutors usually consider the offender's criminal record, the circumstances surrounding the event and whether the abuse has caused "great bodily injury," death or significant financial loss. Great bodily injury (also referred to as "great bodily harm" or "GBI") means significant or substantial injuries. It should be noted that an individual accused of this type of abuse can also be sued in civil court for money damages.

Misdemeanor dependent adult or elder abuse is punishable by up to one year in county jail, up to five (5) years of informal probation, restitution, counseling, and a fine of $6000 or $10,000 for a second conviction. Felony dependent adult or elder abuse is punishable by imprisonment in a state prison for 2, 3 or 4 years along with fines of up to $10,000, formal probation and/or parole. If the victim actually suffers great bodily injury, an additional term in state prison is added to the original term: 3 years if the victim is under 70 years old, or 5 years if the victim is older than 70. If the victim dies, the additional term is 5 years if the victim is under 70 years old, or 7 years if the victim is older than 70.

Los Angeles Elder Abuse Attorney

The Los Angeles District Attorney's office aggressively prosecutes dependent adult and elder abuse and has almost unlimited resources to assist them in their efforts. Having experienced Los Angeles criminal attorneys on your side will give you the advantage you need to level the playing field and successfully defend against these charges.

At Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners we believe it is important to be proactive when facing allegations of Elder Abuse. First, we attempt to get the charges reduced or even dismissed. In the event that a dismissal is not an option, we aggressively negotiate for a favorable plea agreement. If we cannot obtain a favorable deal, we vigorously fight for a "not guilty" verdict at trial. Call the offices of Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners for a free and CONFIDENTIAL CONSULTATION. Our attorneys are available to meet with you and your family to privately and confidentially discuss the specific facts of your case and the legal options available to you.

Contact a Los Angeles criminal lawyer from our firm if you need to fight back against criminal accusations of Elder Abuse or neglect.