Elder Abuse is also termed abuse of the elderly. Elder abuse is physical or psychological mistreatment of an elder (65 years and over) by a caretaker or by someone known to the elder. This includes physical abuse, financial abuse, psychological abuse, and neglect.
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.
In California, elder abuse is prosecuted under Penal Code Section 368, which makes it unlawful for any person or caretaker to do the following:
Physical Pain or Mental Suffering - It is a crime for any person, under circumstanceslikely 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
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 $400. If the value is less than $400 the offense is a
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
Elder Abuse Penalties
Penalties for elder abuse depend on the type of abuse that has been inflicted (i.e., physical injury, financial injury or false imprisonment). Elder abuse can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor, meaning it is a “wobbler.” In deciding whether to file an 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 elder abuse is punishable by up to one year in county jail, three 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.
If you or someone you know is facing elder abuse accusations it is best to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney who specifically handles elder abuse cases.