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Elder Abuse Attorney

Elder abuse attorneys in Los Angeles specialize in defending individuals accused of failing to report elder abuse, a charge considered a misdemeanor. These skilled legal professionals work tirelessly to navigate the complexities of the law, aiming to minimize potential penalties for their clients. Penalties can include up to six months in the county jail, monetary fines not exceeding $1,000, or both.

What Constitutes Elder Abuse in California?

Reports of abuse against elderly individuals are on the rise in the United States, affecting people from all social, economic, geographic, and ethnic backgrounds. The increase in reported cases and subsequent charges is likely to continue, irrespective of whether these allegations result in convictions or dismissals.

Elder Abuse, according to Penal Code 368(a), defines crimes committed against elders—including adults dependent upon others for their care and well-being—and legislates particular legal guidelines for their protection from abuse.

While it is sad that the California legislature would even need to set laws against elder abuse, the reality is that some dependent elders need legal safeguards from senior abuse in much the same way minor or underage children also need them. Persons who take advantage of susceptible elders with harm commit the criminal conduct known as ‘elder abuse.'

Penal Code on ‘elder abuse' and harm to ‘dependent adults' came about through the California legislature proposing an extensive definition of adults with physical or mental impairment(s) in the early 1980s. That culminated in the formalization of code for prosecution, as first requested by the Santa Ana Police Department in 1983.

Thus, the legislature enacted California Penal Code 368 to prosecute elder abuse as criminal conduct. Seniors less able to protect themselves or to report abuse should, the new legislation stated, receive special legal protection across the state.

Sections (b)(1)(2)(3) offer specifics that detail physical pain and mental agony inflicted on the victim, under such conditions that could lead to either significant bodily injury or even death. Elder abuse code also designates the perpetrator's willfulness in inflicting or allowing the continuation of unjustifiable suffering to a dependent adult. The severity of harm determines the prosecution type and sentencing terms of elder abuse, whether as a felony or a misdemeanor.

How the Law Can Protect Our Vulnerable Elderly Population

In most cases, disadvantaged adults or dependent elders are vulnerable and in need of protection due to some type of disability resulting from disease, medications, treatment, incompetence, physical incapacity, mental health issues, memory loss, cognitive confusion, etc.

Those suffering from elder abuse typically find themselves under the primary care of an individual demonstrating neglectful or criminal intent, whether it be a trusted adult child, relative, sole friend, assumed medical professional, or facility staff.

Persons trapped in the situation often lack the ability or resources within themselves to defend themselves, to grasp the extent of criminal behavior, to recognize and report abuse, or to testify of elder abuses against them that they may recognize.

Elder Abuse Jail Time and Fines

California Code 368 also states the penalties of elder abuse convictions to incur minimum county jail or prison terms and maximum fines, with additional sentencing terms and greater fines based on: the age of the abused elder (> or < 70 years old), the gravity of bodily injury, and/or the demise of the victim suffering elder abuse (b); elder abuse crimes involving theft, fraud, or embezzlement (c); indications of sexual assault (Code 289, Section 15610.63); assault and battery (245), and sustained fear under threat of harm, crime, or death (422); among other provisions, including elder abuse misdemeanors and felonies committed by care facilities; plus (under Welfare and Institution Code 15630), elder financial fraud and even failure to report elder abuse to authorities.

Elderly Abuse Charges

Commission of misdemeanor elder abuse could result in summary probation, a 1-year county jail sentence (max.), fines to $6,000 or $10,000 (per previous/subsequent offense), victim restitution and therapeutic counseling, either individually or in combination, if convicted. Commission of felony elder abuse could result in formal probation, a 2- to 4-year (max.) state prison sentence, a 3- to 7-year imprisonment extension based on injury or death, ‘strike three' sentencing (prior/subsequent offense), fines to $10,000, victim restitution and therapeutic counseling, either individually or in combination, if convicted.

Mandated Reporting of Elder Abuse

Mandated reporting of elder abuse is required from any person or service provider having executed either their full or intermittent duty of custody care for an elder or another disabled or dependent adult, regardless if that service person receives remuneration or not.

Those persons could include any licensed staff of a public, private, or county adult protective facility and its administrators and managers; elder adult care custodians, members of a religious order or organization, health care professionals; or, state agency or a local law enforcement agency.

Mandated reporters within a Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF), who suspect elder physical abuse that entails serious bodily injury, must call in their report within 2 hours of observation to local law enforcement, followed by a written elder abuse report on the incident (Form SOC341) submitted to Local Law Enforcement, Department of Public Health, and Ombudsman.

Serious Bodily Injury: Definition and How to Document Harm

Welfare and Institutions Code 15610.67 defines ‘serious bodily injury' as that which results in extreme physical pain, medical intervention, hospitalization, surgery, physical rehabilitation, protracted loss of faculties (mental, bodily, or organ function) including but not limited to impairment, or substantial risk of death. If the abuse has occurred in any place other than a long-term care facility, a state developmental center, or a state mental hospital, then the report should be made to the local law enforcement agency or adult protective services agency.

Relatives, friends, or caretakers concerned about possible elder abuse should look for indications of 1-to-10 pain levels, outside or emergency medical interventions, lack of mobility in extremities (toes and fingers), neurological exam progress or regress, depth of injuries (cuts), skin and wound discoloration, possibility of unseen fractures, and the extent of allegations by other nursing or care staff, etc.

Taking Legal Action Elder Abuse Charges

For those facing elder abuse charges, the experience and process of legal defense can also be devastating. California Penal Code allows very serious penalties for elder abuse. Prosecution of suspected elder abuse cases tends to be equally aggressive.

Defendants, who tend to be family members or trusted caregivers of seniors, typically have a complicated and emotional relationship with the alleged elder abuse victim and a high interest in the prosecution of the elder abuse conviction.

Given the rigors of California elder abuse legislation, prosecution charges are sometimes prone to false accusations, lack of substantial evidence, the question of willful intent, or even mistaken identity.

Having proper legal counsel, such as a Los Angeles elder abuse attorney who is experienced in defense and prosecution of varied elder abuse offenses, cannot be overemphasized. Senior abuse attorneys should be consulted for either the prosecution of senior abuse charges or the defense against alleged abuse.

Defense Strategies for Elder Abuse Charges

When someone is arrested for elder abuse, having a solid defense strategy is crucial. The complexities of elder abuse charges require a nuanced approach, as the consequences of a conviction can be severe, impacting both personal and professional lives. Here are some common defense strategies employed by experienced elder abuse attorneys:

  • Lack of Intent: Proving that the accused did not willfully cause harm can be a h3 defense. Intent is a crucial element in elder abuse cases, and demonstrating a lack of intent can lead to reduced charges or even dismissal.
  • False Accusations: It’s not uncommon for family disputes to lead to false allegations. An attorney can investigate the motives behind the accusations and gather evidence to support the defense.
  • Mistaken Identity: In some cases, the wrong person is accused of elder abuse. Eyewitness testimony, surveillance footage, and alibi evidence can help establish the true perpetrator's identity.
  • Insufficient Evidence: Challenging the prosecution’s evidence is a fundamental defense tactic. If the evidence against the accused is weak or circumstantial, an attorney can argue for the charges to be dropped.
  • Accidental Harm: Sometimes injuries to elders are the result of accidents rather than intentional abuse. Medical records, witness statements, and expert testimony can support this defense.
  • Consent: In cases of financial elder abuse, proving that the elder consented to the transactions can be a viable defense. Documentation and witness testimony can be critical in these scenarios.

Facing criminal charges for financial elder abuse or any form of elder abuse is daunting. If you find yourself in this situation, do not delay in reaching out to the law office of William Kroger.

Mr. Kroger is an experienced Los Angeles elder abuse attorney who can provide a robust defense and help navigate the legal complexities involved. Contact our office for a consultation.


Is Elder Abuse a Federal Crime?
Elder abuse is not specifically categorized as a federal crime; however, it can be prosecuted under various federal statutes, particularly if it involves financial exploitation, fraud, or abuse in facilities receiving federal funding.
What Is the Statute of Limitations on Elder Abuse in California?
In California, the statute of limitations for elder abuse varies depending on the type of abuse and charges. For felony elder abuse, it is typically three years, while for misdemeanor elder abuse, it is generally one year from the date of the incident.

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