What are elder abuse laws?

California Penal Code 368 PC defines elder abuse as physical or emotional abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation of a victim 65 years of age or older. The offense can be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or a felony, and is punishable by up to 4 years in jail or imprisonment. Caregivers have been known to threaten those entrusted to their care out of frustration or ill-treatment by the elderly person. It is a crime to threaten an elderly person, to instil fear of physical violence and to carry out the threat.

It's a wobbler offense, so if convicted, you face up to one year in county jail if it's a misdemeanor or state prison sentence of up to 4 years and a strike on your record if convicted of a felony. Misdemeanor elder abuse consists of the same behaviors as felony elder abuse, but is limited to abuse that is not likely to cause great bodily harm or death. Illinois passed the Illinois Elder Abuse and Neglect Act in 1988, which includes provisions to help law enforcement and social workers better respond to complaints of elder abuse. If the court finds that one or more of the above factors were at play in a plan to defraud an elderly person, the law allows the court to award up to three times the amount of damages it would otherwise have awarded.

National Indigenous Elder Justice Initiative maintains list of laws specific to Native Americans. The Act also creates a class of mandatory reporters who are required by law to report alleged incidents of elder abuse to the appropriate authorities, thus ensuring that such abuse is more likely to come to light. A distinctive feature of the Act is that it allows victims of elder abuse or neglect to sue alleged perpetrators in civil court and provides for greater damages in certain cases. In addition, it must be demonstrated that the person or entity allegedly committed financial abuse of older persons knew or should have known that the conduct in question was likely to have been harmful to the elder or dependent adult.

California Welfare and Institutions Code Section 15600 protects the elderly (anyone 65 and older) and dependent adults from many types of physical abuse and neglect. Most state laws that specifically address elder abuse establish reporting requirements (including penalties for mandatory first responders who do not report abuse); describe procedures for investigating complaints; and provide emergency protection, guardianship, medical care, and other services vital. Its purpose was (and is) to order the reporting of alleged cases of elder abuse and to provide an appropriate civil remedy for older persons suffering abuse and victimization, as criminal proceedings in these matters were rare at the time of their enactment. The NCEA provides a state-by-state directory of elder abuse resources, such as hotlines, prevention resources, applicable elder abuse laws, and links to state APS websites.

On the civil front, the primary source of legal authority for filing senior abuse lawsuits in California is the Dependent Adult and Elder Abuse Civil Protection Act (the “Act”). The Act applies to an extraordinarily wide range of behaviors that are commonly understood to constitute elder abuse, including physical abuse of older persons, neglect and financial abuse. You commit elder abuse by subjecting an older person to physical, emotional, or sexual abuse; neglecting or abandoning an older person; or exploiting an older person for economic or material purposes. Elder abuse civil statutes guide the practice of adult protective services (APS) agencies, the entity in each state designated to receive and respond to complaints of elder abuse.

These laws apply if the older victim is a spouse, former spouse, roommate, parent or grandparent, dating partner, or former dating partner. .

Erika Shipley
Erika Shipley

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