In California, the elderly have special protections under the law. These elder abuse laws protect people who are over the age of 65 from physical, emotional, and financial abuse. When you are charged with a violation of California’s elder abuse laws you can face life-changing consequences. You have the ability to fight any elder abuse charges you face, and The Rodriguez Law Group can help.
Our Los Angeles criminal attorneys, led by former prosecutor Ambrosio Rodriguez, have nearly two decades of legal experience. We understand that a criminal conviction for elder abuse would be devastating for your future, so we will fight to secure the best possible outcome in your criminal case. Our aggressive approach to criminal matters allows us to secure reduced and dismissed charges in many of the cases we handle. Call our Los Angeles office today to schedule a free consultation with our legal team. We will review the charges against, make sure that your rights have not been violated, and answer the questions you have.
- 1 Why Does California Have Elder Abuse Laws?
- 2 What is Elder Abuse?
- 3 Financial Elder Abuse
- 4 Examples of Elder Abuse
- 5 Penalties for Elder Abuse
- 6 Defending Elder Abuse Charges in Los Angeles
- 7 Speak to a Los Angeles Elder Abuse Attorney Today
Why Does California Have Elder Abuse Laws?
California law offers special protections for the elderly and the disabled. These special protections act, in part, as a way to help people who may not be able to protect themselves from harm. California Penal Code Section 368 PC explains that elderly and disabled adults deserve special protections because they, like children, “may be confused, on various medications, mentally or physically impaired, or incompetent.” These special conditions make the elderly and the disabled more vulnerable to criminal attacks. Laws prohibiting elder abuse help to protect the vulnerable and punish those who take advantage of them.
What is Elder Abuse?
Elder abuse occurs when an elderly and/or disabled person is the victim of physical, emotional, or financial abuse or neglect. An elderly person is anyone who is over the age of 65. A dependent adult is a person between the ages of 18 and 64 whose physical and/or mental limitations restrict their ability to live a normal life. Elder abuse can occur in many places, including private homes, hospitals, nursing homes, and retirement communities.
The following behaviors are explicitly listed as violations of California’s elder abuse laws under 368 PC:
- Inflicting unjustifiable physical pain or mental suffering;
- Causing unjustifiable pain and suffering to be inflicted;
- Allowing a person under your supervision to inflict unjustifiable pain and suffering;
- Causing or allowing an elderly person in your care to suffer injuries;
- Causing or allowing an elderly person in your care to be placed in harm’s way; and
- Gross negligence resulting in the harm to an elderly or dependent adult.
With the exception of gross negligence, these acts must be committed willfully. Put in simpler terms, any act that you do intend to do, or do on purpose, is done willfully. Injuries that are the result of an accident or negligent are not considered willful acts.
As you can see, you can face criminal charges for elder abuse if you harm an elderly or dependent adult, or if you allow an elderly or disabled adult under your care to be harmed.
Financial Elder Abuse
California’s elder abuse laws not only protect the elderly from physical and emotional harm, but from financial harms, as well. Penal Code 368 PC defines financial harms as:
- Acts of theft, embezzlement, forgery, fraud, or identity theft,
- With respect to the property or personal identifying information of an elderly or dependent adult;
- With knowledge that the victim is an elderly or dependent adult.
Under 368 PC, you will face harsh penalties if you commit a financial crime if you knew (or should have reasonably known) that the victim was elderly and/or disabled.
Examples of Elder Abuse
California’s elder abuse laws are fairly broad and cover a wide range of behavior. It is important to know which actions could potentially lead to criminal charges for elder abuse. Examples of elder abuse may include:
- Hitting, striking, or punching your elderly grandparents or disabled siblings.
- Allowing a nursing home resident to go without food and/or water for extended periods of time.
- Intentionally failing to administer necessary medications.
- Failing to report or stop abusive conduct.
- Stealing a nursing home resident’s personal credit card to make online shopping purchases.
- Repeatedly belittling, yelling at, and reprimanding your elderly parents.
These acts will be considered elder abuse when they are done willfully and are likely to cause harm or suffering.
Penalties for Elder Abuse
Elder abuse can be a misdemeanor or a felony in Los Angeles. The specific charge will depend on the extent of the harm suffered by the elderly victim and your history of criminal behavior.
Misdemeanor Elder Abuse
You will be charged with misdemeanor elder abuse if your willful or criminally negligent conduct endangered the life, well-being, or safety of an elderly or dependent adult. Misdemeanor elder abuse is punishable by a maximum sentence including one year in a Los Angeles County jail, $6,000 in fines, restitution to your elderly victim, summary probation, and successful completion of court-ordered treatment programs.
Felony Elder Abuse
You will be charged with felony elder abuse if your willful or criminally negligent conduct causes an elderly person to suffer unjustifiable pain and suffering or was likely to produce great bodily injury or death. Felony elder abuse is punishable by two to four years* in a California state prison, $10,000 in criminal fines, restitution to your elderly victim, formal probation, and successful completion of court-ordered treatment programs.
*If your willful or criminally negligent conduct causes an elderly or dependent to suffer great bodily injury or death, you will face an additional three to seven years in prison.
Financial Elder Abuse
Penalties for financial elder abuse will depend on (1) whether you are classified as a caretaker and (2) the value of the property that is stolen. Penal Code 368 PC defines a caretaker as “any person who has the care, custody, or control of, or who stands in a position of trust with, an elder or a dependent adult.”
Property Value < $950: Misdemeanor punishable by one year in a Los Angeles County jail and $1,000 in fines.
Property Value > $950: Felony punishable by one year in a county jail and $2,500 in fines or two, three, or four years in a California state prison and $10,000 in fines.
The penalties will generally be aggravated for caretakers who abuse their position of authority and power.
Defending Elder Abuse Charges in Los Angeles
If you have been accused of an act of elder abuse in Los Angeles you have the right to defend yourself. The best way to beat any criminal charges, including those for elder abuse, is by hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney to argue legal defenses on your behalf.
These arguments help to mitigate the situation by explaining, excusing, or justifying your alleged behavior. When your attorney argues these defenses successfully the prosecution will have a very difficult time proving that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. This will significantly increase the likelihood of getting the prosecutor to reduce or dismiss the charges against you. Defenses that may be helpful in your Los Angeles elder abuse case include:
- You did not act willfully;
- You did not act with criminal negligence;
- The elderly or dependent adult was not likely to suffer harm;
- You acted in self-defense; and
- You have been falsely accused.
Speak to a Los Angeles Elder Abuse Attorney Today
Are you facing criminal charges for elder abuse in Los Angeles? Call The Rodriguez Law Group for immediate legal assistance. If you are convicted of elder abuse you will face serious criminal consequences, including time behind bars and steep criminal fines. You will also be forced to adjust to life with a criminal record. Having a criminal record will make it difficult to do things you once took for granted, like getting a job or renting an apartment.
You can fight the criminal charges against you and avoid these consequences, and our experienced Los Angeles elder abuse attorneys can help. Call us today to schedule a free consultation and learn more.