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