What is Elder Abuse?
Elder abuse has become increasingly more common as it affects one in every seven senior citizens. Elder abuse is committed on a person who is sixty-five years or older and includes:
- Physical abuse – includes sexual abuse, physical injuries, neglect, abandonment, and abduction,
- Financial abuse through fraud or theft, or
- Any other treatment that results in physical or mental pain.
In order to be charged with elder abuse, the following elements must be true:
- You willfully or with criminal negligence (your actions reflect a disregard for human life) personally subjected an elder to unjustifiable physical pain or mental suffering or allowed another person to do so,
- Your actions or lack of action was likely to result in great bodily injury or death, or endanger the life or health of an elder, and
- You knew or should have reasonably known that the alleged victim was an elder (65 years or older).
Penalties for Elder Abuse
This crime is a wobbler, meaning it can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the facts of the case or your criminal history. The penalties for misdemeanor elder abuse include:
- Informal probation,
- Maximum of one year in county jail,
- A maximum fine of $6,000 (or $10,000 if it is a second or subsequent offense),
- Restitution to the victim, and/or
The penalties for felony elder abuse include:
- Formal probation,
- Two to four years in a California state prison – if the victim suffers great bodily injury or death then an additional and consecutive three to seven years are added and there is the potential for a strike under California’s three strikes law,
- Up to $10,000 in fines,
- Restitution, and/or
Legal Defenses for Elder Abuse
Often times people are falsely accused of this crime. Sometimes the alleged victim is intentionally lying or they may be suffering from a disease that has similar effects of physical abuse or neglect. Doctors, police, and social workers are also required by law to report signs of abuse, whether they have proof or not. This can lead to cases where someone is reported but is innocent. There are quite of few legal defenses that criminal defense lawyers can use on your behalf. Here are some of the most common legal defenses for elder abuse.
The injury was the result of an accident.
If you did not willfully injure or act with criminal negligence to cause harm then you cannot be charged with this crime.
You were falsely accused or wrongfully arrested.
False accusations happen all the time, sometimes out of jealousy from a fellow family member. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can ask the right questions to get tot he truth.
You were mistaken for someone else.
If could be that an elder was abused but it wasn’t from you. You may look similar to the abuser or drive a similar car.
There is insufficient evidence.
The prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty in order for you to be convicted. There has to be something besides the fact that an elder was abused – there needs to be something to corroborate the alleged abuse or neglect.
Fresno Elder Abuse Attorney
If you have been charged with elder abuse, hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer to fight for you!