Who are the Elderly?
In California, elders are defined as persons 65 years and older. Under California law, elder abuse can be both criminal and civil. Elder Abuse is a serious issue and is only expected to grow in coming years. By the year 2027, more than 92 million people in the United States will be over the age of 60, and more than 19 million will be over 80 years old. (STATISTICAL INFORMATION STAFF, BUREAU OF THE CENSUS, Projections of the Resident-Population by Age for 2021-2030, note 85, at 7.)
Criminal Elder Abuse
What does the law say about Elder Abuse?
In California, Penal Code Section 368 makes elder abuse a crime. The section applies to the physical or emotional abuse, neglect or financial exploitation of anyone 65 years of age or older. Depending on the circumstances, increasing amounts of incarceration time can be assessed if someone is 70 years of age or older.
As with other criminal matters, the County District Attorney pursues criminal violations of elder abuse statutes. If you believe that an elder person has been criminally abused, you should call police or the Adult Protective Services office within your county.
Civil Elder Abuse
Don’t let an abuser off the hook.
In California, Welfare and Institutions Code Section 15600 is the statute that provides for civil remedies for elder abuse, which may include double damages and attorney fees. Either an elder abuse victim can file a civil lawsuit against an abuser, or someone else can pursue a claim of elder abuse on behalf of the abused person.
Welfare and Institutions Code Section 15610 defines elder abuse as: physical abuse, neglect, financial abuse, abandonment, isolation, abduction, or other treatment resulting in harm, pain or mental suffering to an elder. It also means the deprivation by a care custodian of goods or services that are necessary to avoid physical harm or mental suffering.
California Probate Code Section 859 provides:
“If a court finds that a person has in bad faith wrongfully taken, concealed, or disposed of property belonging to a conservatee, a minor, an elder, a dependent adult, a trust, or the estate of a decedent, or has taken, concealed, or disposed of the property by the use of undue influence in bad faith or through the commission of elder or dependent adult financial abuse. . . . the person shall be liable for twice the value of the property recovered by an action under this part. In addition. . . . the person may, in the court’s discretion, be liable for reasonable attorney’s fees and costs.”
If you believe an elder has been abused, Advocas Law Group can help hold the wrongdoers civilly responsible.
Contact us today to learn more.