Criminal Defense Lawyers Representing Individuals Accused of Elder Abuse in Violation of California Penal Code Section 368
Any type of allegation of elder abuse can lead to serious criminal charges and jail time. Elder abuse is described in California Penal Code Section 368, and it covers a wide range of criminal conduct that can occur in a variety of situations. An elder is anyone who is 65-years-old or older. The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office has a special unit that is dedicated to aggressively investigating and prosecuting elder abuse cases, which is also commonly called senior abuse. In California, there are different types of elder abuse cases. These include physical abuse, infliction of mental suffering, or financial abuse. By law, it's not necessary that an alleged victim is a senior citizen, but only a dependant adult who has any mental or physical limitations. In the vast majority of elder abuse cases in Los Angeles County, a defendant is a family member or a caregiver. Elder abuse allegations are frequently related to domestic violence. In basic language, it's a crime to cause or allow an elder or dependant to suffer unjustifiable pain. What this means is that it is not necessary for someone to physically or abuse an elder in order to face criminal charges. For example, if someone is a caregiver and allows an elder to be abused, they could potentially face criminal charges. Physical abuse is causing any type of pain or injuries on an elderly victim. This could include simple abrasions, bruises, or more serious injuries such as broken bones. It can also include neglect, abandonment, and sexual abuse. Mental abuse is any type of mental suffering, such as isolation. A common example includes a situation when a family member or a caregiver does not allow an elder to have communication with other people. Financial abuse would include embezzlement and defrauding their property by forgery or identity theft.
If you have been accused of elder abuse, call a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer at Eisner Gorin LLP. Our attorneys will thoroughly review the details in order to prepare a legal strategy to defend you. Let's take a closer look at the legal definitions below:
What is the legal definition of elder abuse?
Under California Penal Code Section 368, elder abuse is legally defined as follows:
Who is considered a dependent adult?
Under California law, a dependent adult is anyone with physical or mental limitation that impair with their ability to function or protect their rights. This could include a person with a developmental disability. Any adult who lives in an inpatient facility would typically be considered a dependent.
Who is considered a caretaker?
Under California law, a person is considered a caretaker when they have the responsibility to take care of an elder or dependent adult, or they have custody or control over them, or when they hold a position of trust with the victim.
If you a caregiver of an elder or dependent adult, the prosecutor must be prove that while you had care or custody of the victim, you negligently and willfully were the cause their injuries, or that you placed them in a dangerous situation likely to cause injury. As stated, an elder adult is described as anyone who is at least 65 years old.
Regardless of the circumstances that lead to being charged with elder abuse charges, you are facing a serious legal issue and severe penalties. Call our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers to review your case and discuss a strategy for best possible outcome on the case.
What are the elements of the crime?
In order for the Los Angeles County prosecutor to secure a conviction against you, they have to be able to prove specific elements of the crime. These include:
- The alleged victim was at least 65 years old; or
- You knew, should have known, the alleged victim was at least 65 years old
- You willfully caused unjustified physical pain, or mental suffering, or you allowed another individual to do so, on the alleged victim, or
- Your conduct could have endangered the health or life of the elder
The key term “willfully,” means it was deliberate. Unjustifiable pain or mental suffering is simply causing any type of unnecessary pain under the circumstances. It's important to note that it's not necessary that the elder or dependant actually suffered a great bodily injury, only that you placed them in a situation where it could have happened. Call a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney at our law firm for more detailed information.
What are the legal penalties?
An elder abuse case can be filed as a misdemeanor or felony crime, which is commonly known as a wobbler. The decision by the prosecutor on how to file charges will typically depend on the specific circumstances and your criminal history. If you are convicted of misdemeanor elder abuse, you could face up to one year in county jail, a $6,000 fine, restitution, and informal probation. If convicted of felony elder abuse, you could face 4 years in state prison, a $10,000 fine, counseling, restitution, and formal probation. If the elderly victim suffers a great bodily injury, the legal penalties will be increase and you could even face a “strike” under California's Three Strikes Law.
What are the legal defenses?
An experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney at our law firm could utilize a variety of legal defense strategies, based on the specific circumstances. These include:
Accidental injury – In some cases, our attorneys might be able to successfully argue the victim's injury was an accident, and there was no intent to harm them.
False allegation – There have been cases where elder abuse charges were filed against an innocent person. In these cases, the alleged victim intentionally lied or they had from physical or mental symptoms that gave an appearance of neglect or physical abuse. Our lawyers may be able to successfully argue there is little evidence to support the allegations.
Self defense – In some cases, our criminal lawyers might be able to prove you were acting in self-defense or defense of another person. There have been cases where an elderly or dependant person becomes physically aggressive and places you at the risk of suffering harm yourself. We could possibly show you had to use immediate force to avoid the threat and didn't use any more force than necessary.
Contact a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Law Firm
If you are under criminal investigation, or have already been charged with elder abuse, call a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer at Eisner Gorin LLP. Early intervention into your case can be critical to the outcome. Our attorneys will need to first review the details of your elder abuse accusations. We offer a free immediate response. Call our law office at 877-781-1570.