Elder and Dependent Adult Abuse Defense Attorney in Los Angeles
Have you been accused of elder or dependent adult abuse? In California, the legislature has determined that certain segments of the population require additional protection from a variety of illegal acts. Section 368 of the California Penal Code was enacted in an attempt to provide that protection. It extends not only to those who are 65 and over (“elder adults”), but also those who are “dependent adults.”
Note that on the civil side, the California Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act (EADACPA) seeks to protect elder and dependent adults in matters such as neglect in food, shelter, and clothing. Without getting into the mechanics of the civil remedies, we should advise you that the Act also covers failure to provide medical care, abandonment, financial abuse (mismanagement, embezzlement, etc.), and physical and sexual abuse.
“I felt like I was in nightmare. Chris literally saved my life.” – Jesus L.
Who Qualifies as an Elder or a Dependent Adult?
While it is a simple matter to define “elder adult” by age (65 or older), there are distinctions within that group that affect the consequences if you are convicted of certain offenses where the elder adult is a victim. For example, the potential sentence may be enhanced if the victim is 70 years of age or older.
PC 368(h) defines the term “dependent adult.” It refers to those who are between 18 and 64 years of age and who have disabilities (physical or mental) that restrict the person’s ability to perform normal activities or to protect their rights. This includes, among many others, those with physical or mental disabilities that have diminished due to age, and persons between 18 and 64 who are patients at a 24-hour healthcare facility, including a psychiatric acute care hospital.
Examples and Charges of Elder or Dependent Adult Abuse
The crime of elder or dependent adult abuse covers many situations. They generally fall into one of the following broad categories:
- Emotional and/or psychological abuse.
- Physical abuse.
- Sexual Abuse.
- Financial abuse.
These offenses are serious. While some cases of abuse are misdemeanors, many are wobblers, and some – for example where the defendant inflicts unjustifiable pain (physical or mental) – are felonies. The statute provides that in that case, the applicable sentence will be extended for three years if the victim is under 70 years of age, and five years if the victim is 70 or older.
Defenses to Charges of Elder and Dependent Adult Abuse
Spouses, adult children, and caregivers are often targeted when elder or dependent adult abuse is suspected or discovered. Nevertheless, many of those accused and charged with abuse have had no part in harming the victim in any way. In addition, many “signs” of abuse are largely subjective. For example, according to the United States Department of Justice, broken eyeglasses is a “red flag” of elder abuse. Similarly, many people will say that a messy appearance, weight loss, difficulty sleeping, depression, and similar factors point to elder or dependent adult abuse. While these issues may point to elder abuse, they may also relate to the natural habits of an elderly or dependent adult.
The fact is that all these alleged signs of abuse can often be explained by a variety of occurrences that have nothing at all to do with neglect or abuse of any sort. The right attorney can explain to a jury that these facts are nothing more than daily occurrences which (a) do not conclusively demonstrate that abuse has occurred, and (b) assuming they did occur, do not prove that you, the defendant, committed any abusive act.
Being accused of elder or dependent adult abuse is difficult on several levels, including the publication of facts charging you with what most people would consider a heinous crime. Because of the seriousness of the offense, it is essential that you retain an experienced criminal defense attorney to handle your case. That attorney will advise you of any and all possible defenses that may apply. These include the following examples:
- Example 1. You are accused of physical abuse of an elderly resident by a nursing home employee. This may be a simple case of mistaken identity.
- Example 2. An elderly relative claims that you sexually abused her. But the woman has dementia and has made similar allegations against others in the past, none of which have been found to be true.
- Example 3. A relative says that you have stolen the elderly person’s money. But the person making the allegations stands to gain financially (in a will, for example) if you are out of the picture.
- Example 4. You are visiting a relative in a nursing home. As you walk down the hall you are physically attacked by another resident. You defend yourself, and in the process, physically injure the attacker. You were unaware of how frail the person was, so you used what would be considered reasonable force to stop the other person from injuring you. You are entitled to raise self-defense to counter a charge of assault and battery.
- Example 5. You have a physical altercation with a person who looks like he is about 50 years old. A reasonable person would agree that that person appears not to be elderly within the meaning of the statute, i.e., 65 years of age or older. Whatever charges may result from the dispute, you have a viable defense to a charge of elder abuse.
These are just a few of the possible defenses that may be available if you are charged with elder or dependent adult abuse.
Los Angeles Elder or Dependent Adult Abuse Defense Lawyer
If you are facing a charge of elder or dependent adult abuse, there is a lot at stake. You could be convicted of a felony, lose your freedom, and lose your standing in the community. To protect your rights, contact Chis Bou Saeed at CBS Law today. Chris will analyze the allegations against you, determine what investigation may be necessary, and raise all possible defenses to the charge. He is an experienced criminal defense attorney with a proven track record of success. Contact CBS Law today at (213) 800-8005
“Do NOT speak to law enforcement or investigators about your elder abuse charges, as that information can and will be used against you in a court of law.”
Christopher J. Bou Saeed Founding Attorney of CBS Law