Elder Abuse Laws

Elder abuse has become a much-talked-about, concerning occurrence in recent times. All aspects of this situation are taken very seriously by the courts, the police and the government. The same crime carries higher penalties, in both criminal and civil jurisdictions, when committed against an elder person. This crime can range from the deadly to the seemingly innocuous.

Here are some of the most serious elder abuse laws on the books in California:

PENAL CODE: § 368(b)(1)(2)(3): (Causes or permits infliction of physical pain or mental suffering on elder or dependent adult under circumstances or conditions likely to produce great bodily harm or death): A person, under circumstances or conditions likely to produce great bodily harm or death, willfully causes or permits an elder or dependent adult to suffer with knowledge that he or she is an elder or dependent adult.

Penalty: One year county jail and $6,000 fine or state prison two, three, or four years If victim suffers great bodily injury – then additional state prison: 3 years if victim under 70 years; 5 years if victim 70 years or older. If defendant causes death of victim – then additional state prison: 5 years if victim under 70 years; 7 years if victim 70 years or older.

PENAL CODE: § 368(d): (Violates provision of law proscribing theft or embezzlement – not a caretaker): A person, not a caretaker violates provision of law proscribing theft or embezzlement with respect to property or personal identifying information of an elder or dependent adult with knowledge that he or she is an elder or dependent adult.

Penalty: When value of property taken exceeds $950: One year county jail and $1,000 fine or state prison 2, 3 or 4 years. When value of property taken does not exceed $950: One year county jail and $1,000 fine.

PENAL CODE § 368(e): (Violates provision of law proscribing theft or embezzlement – caretaker): A caretaker violates provision of law proscribing theft or embezzlement with respect to property of an elder or dependent adult.

Penalty: When value of property taken exceeds $950: Misdemeanor or felony: One year county jail and $1,000 fine or state prison 2, 3, or 4 years. When value of property taken does not exceed $950: One year county jail and $1,000 fine.

In California, elders are defined as persons 65 years and older. Under California law, elder abuse can be both criminal and civil. For elder abuse to be considered criminal, anyone who has knowledge that a person is 65 or older must purposefully inflict or allows to be inflicted, suffering, whether physical or mental, on that person.

Elder abuse that is classified as civil, not rising to the level of criminal, occurs when any physical abuse, neglect of the responsibility of seeing to the care of, financial impropriety, abandonment, isolating the elder, abducting the person against their will, or any other treatment that results in physical or mental pain. Refusal to provide services and care is also considered elder abuse under civil law.

In conclusion, the time has come for elder abuse to not go unremarked-upon, unspoken about, or most certainly, unreported. The failure to report to the proper authorities even a suspicion of abuse is a criminal offense in itself. We must all strive to improve the quality of life of all our fellow denizens of California, especially the elders.

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