With much of the world’s financial activity transitioned from paper-based to online systems, cyber crimes like fraud often occur in the elder abuse context. California already punishes cyber crime and elder abuse harshly when independent from one another. When the two crimes combine into one enterprise, the penalties for conviction can be especially severe. If you have been charged with the internet-based financial exploitation of a California senior citizen, it is imperative that you contact a skilled California criminal defense attorney. With the state working to convict you, you need to mount the strongest legal defense possible.
Financial Abuse is a Type of Elder Abuse
Elders are a vulnerable and venerated part of our society. Having made it to the age of 65, these senior citizens command respect as they enjoy their golden years. When the happy times of this respected class of citizens are disturbed by criminal conduct, the law takes action. Elder abuse takes on several forms: physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, neglect, endangerment, and, most relevant to our discussion here, financial abuse. Not every form of elder financial abuse is computer-based. Some forms include ordinary theft, such as taking money or property. The same is true for the forging of an elder’s signature, or using force or duress to get an elder to sign a will, deed, or power of attorney. However, as more computer-literate generations reach the age of 65, more and more internet-based financial elder abuse occurs, whether through the inducement of elders into financial scams online, or illicitly obtaining an elder’s personal financial information to use for fraudulent online purchases. In other words, personal computers are becoming more and more prevalent in retirement communities every year as an effect of increased computer and online literacy. When internet fraud is perpetrated against an elder, the law is justified in dispensing enhanced punishments – penalties for both the act of fraud, and the perpetration of the act against an elder.
What to Do if You Have Been Charged With Financial Elder Fraud
If you have been charged with financial elder fraud in California, you need to contact a skilled and experienced California criminal defense attorney. Because most charges are typically leveled at family members and caregivers, the stakes are very high, implicating a number of family, employment-related, and financial relationships. Depending on the specifics, the charges against you may be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or a felony. Fines, fees, jail time, reputational damage, restitution are all very real possibilities. The state must prove every element of the charges against you, however, and, in addition, there a number of valid legal defenses such as consent and mistaken identity. Much of the prosecutor’s efforts will be devoted to proving that you possessed a criminal intent. This is a difficult and important component of theft crimes. A skilled and experienced California criminal defense attorney will make every reasonable effort to challenge a prosecutor’s efforts to prove intent, and fight to protect your legal rights, freedom, and reputation.