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An Introduction to Elder Abuse Laws in the State of California

Elder abuse refers to an illegal, willful, or reckless act of a person by which such a person causes or permits an elder or dependent adult to suffer or inflict physical pain and mental suffering upon them.

Who is Protected Under the Law?

The law considers that the following people need protection under Penal Code section 368:

  1. Elders - An elder means a person who is 65 year old or more.
  2. Any Adult Who:
    1. Suffers from Physical Disabilities
    2. Suffers from Mental Disabilities
    3. Any other limitation that restricts their activities or protect their rights.
What is Punishable Under This Section?

The prosecution, in order to convict must prove beyond all reasonable doubts the following points:

  1. A person has wilfully, knowingly, or who must reasonably must know that
  2. Causes or Permits such elders or dependent adult to get injured and suffer physically or mentally
  3. Also, if a person is entrusted with the care of an elder or dependent adult permits them to get injured
  4. Also, if a person is entrusted with the care of an elder or dependent and places them in a situation where they can get hurt.
What is the Punishment for Elder Abuse?

If someone is convicted with a misdemeanor elder abuse they can be imprisoned with an imprisonment up to 1 year in a county jail or a fine of up to $6,000 or both.

Again, if the person is convicted with a felony elder abuse they can be imprisoned for a term up to two, three, or four years in a state prison.

What is the Punishment for a Person Who is a Caretaker?

If a caretaker violates this section while proscribing the following offenses:

  1. Theft
  2. Embezzlement
  3. Forgery
  4. Frauds
  5. Identity Theft

Then such caretaker must be punished with a fine of up to $2,500 and imprisonment of up to 1 year in a county prison for a misdemeanour and if such person is convicted of a felony they will be punished with a fine of up to $10,000 and an imprisonment of up to two, three, or four years in a state prison.

Examples of elder abuse that are sometimes charged include scenarios where a relative or caretaker of an aged person takes advantage of that person while caring for them. The relative or caretaker may charge credit cards without permission or while the elder has a diminished capacity to consent. Other times, relatives or caretakers may bring an aged person to the bank to try and withdraw money from the aged person’s account or take out a loan in their name. Purchases like cars, homes, trips, and luxury items by someone who is aged may be a red flag for banks or authorities.

Another example may include a relative or caretaker taking advantage of the person’s existing property, including moving in with the aged person, using their identification to access their property or impersonating them to access their wealth.

As the baby boomer population ages, the expectation is that there will be an uptick in crimes committed against the elderly. This vulnerable population may lack protective people to identify the criminal conduct against them and to take action. When the person entrusted with the care of the aged person is committing the crime, they may be able to better conceal their actions. It may only be upon review by another relative, or even after death when an estate has been drained, that the crimes may be detected.

When Can a Restraining Order be Issued?

A judge can grant a restraining order to such an elder or dependant adult against the abuser that can remain valid for a term of up to 10 year. The period of a restraining order is depended upon the following:

  1. The seriousness of the offense.
  2. The possibility of future violence.
  3. The safety of the victim.
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