Elder abuse is a problem that is much bigger than it appears to be. The Violence Intervention Program reports that about one in ten seniors experience some form of abuse and of these abuse cases, about 93% of them go unreported. Elderly individuals are abused in many ways that are not necessarily physical and/or sexual. Some forms of abuse include emotional abuse, neglect, confinement, deprivation, and financial exploitation.
Some elderly individuals refuse to report an abuse incident out of fear or may not have the capacity to report the issue themselves. Elders suffer from a variety of physical and mental conditions that may complicate a simple phone call for help. If you are an elder or you know of an elder that is undergoing some form of abuse, you are encouraged to contact the Adult Protective Services.
The Adult Protective Service is a 24/7 assistance program that responds to reports of abuse of elders or individuals of age 18 to 60 who have mental or physical disabilities. The ADP can be reached through their hotline number at 877-477-3646. Their hotline operates 24 hours a day and upon receiving a report, the ADP will dispatch a social worker to pay a visit to the elder’s location.
The ADP welcomes anonymous reports from any person that is aware of an elder abuse including a family member, neighbor, or friend. However, if you are a caretaker, an employee at the ADP, an employee of financial institutions, a law enforcement agent, or a health practitioner, you required by law to report any suspicion of elder abuse. Failing to report an abuse to the local authorities or to the ADP can have legal repercussions for individuals that are subject to the mandated reporter laws.
Soon after reporting the incident to the ADP, you may want to press charges against the perpetrator. For many reasons, pressing charges is the right thing to do to a person that has engaged in acts that violate the elder abuse laws. There are instances where an elder is a victim of financial exploitation. If some of their hard-earned retirement money is robbed, the individual may want to press charges so that some of that money may be paid back. In addition, if the elder is a victim of physical abuse, they might want to press charges to ensure that the individual is treated with the full ramifications of the laws. In most cases involving physical abuse, the perpetrator may face an upward of five years in prison.
In the worst of cases, if the abuse resulted in the death of an elder, the family may want to pursue charges against the violator. If you or a loved one has suffered through some form of abuse and you wish to press charges against the perpetrator, you may want to contact a local state attorney. The Long Beach Criminal Attorney may be reached at 562-308-7807. We are capable of evaluating your case and providing guidance in a courtroom.
We understand that when an elder is abused, it is a very serious crime that violates California law. In some cases, individuals who violate the elder abuse laws may face serious time in prison and a hefty fine to accompany the prison sentence. If you are charged with abusing an elder, it is in your best interest to speak with an attorney to discuss your case. There are times when elders have mistaken the person that has abused them and press charges against the wrong individual. If you want a better understanding of your rights, contact a local state attorney today.
To learn more about the Violence Intervention Program you may visit the following link: http://www.violenceinterventionprogram.org/elder-abuse-services/. To access the Adult Protective Service (ADP) you may use the following link: https://wdacs.lacounty.gov/
Penal Code 368: Crimes Against Dependent Adults
If you are in the state of California and you have committed a crime against an elderly individual, you may face serious consequences that can result in a long prison sentence. Penal Code 368 explains that it is a crime to abuse 1) a person that is an elder (a person above the age of 65), 2) a dependent adult (any person between the ages of 18-65), 3) a person with disabilities (a person that requires special attention that is between the age of 18-65). The law provides specific protections for older individuals and dependent adults because these individuals may be mentally or physically impaired, may be under the medication, and therefore, may be unable to protect themselves from abuse. Because elderly individuals are ‘easy’ targets, the law provides specific punishments that aim to dissuade acts of abuse from family members and/or caregivers.
Under Penal Code 368 (b) if a caretaker (any person that cares, has custody, or control of an elder person) physically or mentally abuses a person with disabilities or an elder, or places an elder or person with disabilities in a position that would cause the person great bodily pain or death, the person may be charged with a jail sentence and/or fine. First-time offenders may receive a fine of up to one-thousand dollars and a jail sentence of up to a year. For subsequent offenses, the perpetrator may face additional years in jail and higher fines. Of course, depending on the circumstances, the individual may face additional penalties even in first-time offenses.
In a courtroom, a judge may add additional years if the actions of the perpetrator have caused great bodily harm to an elder or to a dependent adult. In the state of California, if the abused individual is above the age of 70, the judge may add an additional five years in jail. On the other hand, if the dependent adult is under the age of 70 the perpetrator may face an additional three years in jail.
When abuse results in death, the violator is looking at a different prison sentence. If the abused individual dies from physical abuse or if he or she dies from the conditions created by the caretaker, the caretaker will face additional time in prison. If the dependent adult was under the age of 70, the caretaker may face up to five additional years in jail. On the other hand, if the individual was over the age of 70, the caretaker may face up to seven years in prison.
To learn more about the California Penal Code 368, you may refer to the following page: https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?lawCode=PEN§ionNum=368
More than one type of abuse
An elder individual may be abused in a variety of ways. An elder or a dependent adult may be abused financially, physically, emotionally, and/or may be experiencing some form of neglect. In many cases, if you are a caretaker, it means you are in charge of providing a safe environment for an elderly or dependent adult. Failing to provide adequate care can result in prison time and fines that differ depending on the type of abuse that is reported. Whatever the case may be, if you are a caretaker, you are required to keep your elderly person free from hazards just like you would with a child under the age of 18.
An abuser is more often than not a family member and it can be either a man or a woman. Often times, an elder is abused because they are easy targets that in many cases do not have a voice or means of communicating with the outside world for help. Senior citizens face many forms of abuse including the following:
Physical abuse can occur when there is inappropriate or forceful touching. Unfortunately, our elderly individuals suffer from mental and physical conditions that may affect the way they respond to physical abuse. As we age it becomes easier to be targeted by younger people that want to cause harm. A physical abuser can be a caretaker or another trusted individual making it harder for an abused person to challenge the abuser. A person that is being physically abused may show signs of bruising and may be emotionally hurt.
Sexual abuse can occur when there is inappropriate touching by a caregiver. Sexual abuse can occur even in the absence of sex. Sexual abuse can be touching or grabbing private parts, touching a person if on the shoulder with the purpose of satisfying a sexual pleasure can also be considered sexual abuse. An older individual may not have the capacity to speak out about sexual abuse or they may find the act to be humiliating and therefore choose to remain quiet. You may access more information sex crimes by visiting the following page: https://www.longbeach-criminallawyer.com/practice-areas/sex-crimes/rape
More often than not, an elderly individual is a victim of financial exploitation. Elderly individuals are usually retired and are living off of their savings. For someone who wants to steal, an elder is an easy target. Caretakers are often close family members that are able to abuse the trust that is built between an elder and a caretaker. If you notice suspicious activity in your banking account you may want to check your banking history to ensure that all transactions are correct. If you find a transaction in your banking history that was not approved, you might want to discuss the issue with your banking agency. If your caretaker knows your banking information you may also want to speak with her or contact an attorney to help you mediate the situation.
An emotional abuser may be the same person that is causing physical abuse except that instead of hitting or placing their hands on another person, he or she may choose to attack emotions. An emotional abuser like a physical abuser will attempt to control another person by causing emotional stress. Emotional abuse can come in the form of constant shaming, name-calling, threats, harsh criticism, and other mind games that aim to control another person.
An elderly individual may also be experiencing neglect. A person may experience neglect when a caretaker or person in charge of the elder refuses to provide life essentials like food, water, and a safe environment. Neglect occurs when a caretaker refuses to fulfill responsibilities that put the lives of others in danger. A person may be neglected of basic necessities for a day or for a number of days. If you are being deprived of life essentials it is important to speak with an attorney about your case. An elderly individual has the right to compassionate care, a caretaker that is unable or unwilling to provide his or her caretaker responsibilities may be charged for neglecting an elder.
Penalties under California Penal Code 368
Abusing an elder is a violation of California Penal Code section 368 that can be treated as either a misdemeanor or as a felony. If you are convicted of abusing an elder, you may find that the following terms and conditions apply to you.
- Formal or informal probation
- Probation with jail time
- Probation without jail time
- A misdemeanor can result in up to a year in county jail and a fine of up to six thousand dollars
- A felony can result in up to four years in county jail
- A felony can result in up to seven years in prison if the violator caused great bodily injuries
- Felony strike
Before applying the punishments mentioned above, the judge will take into account all other factors that pertain to the severity of the abuse, the age of the elder, and whether or not the abuse caused death or other great bodily injuries.
Our elderly loved ones must endure a different set of obstacles that come with age. Often times, an elder’s circumstances will keep them from defending themselves and keep them from reporting any incident to the local authorities. Elders that have endured an emotional or physical complication may find that their closets and most trusted friends and/or family may take advantage of their situation. It is common to hear that elders are abused for financial reasons. If you are an elder that is experiencing financial fraud or in the worst of cases, if you are facing physical abuse, it is important to report your incident to the local law enforcement agency. Elder individuals that are abused in any of the forms mentioned above may also file a lawsuit against the violator. If you wish to file a lawsuit against a caretaker or any other person in charge of taking care of your basic needs, you may contact the Long Beach Criminal Attorney at 562-308-7807. We are experts in elder abuse codes and we will make sure that you receive the compensation you deserve.