Conviction for elder abuse in the state of California comes with serious penalties, including fines, jail time, and reputation damage. If you have been charged with an elder abuse crime, you need an experienced California criminal defense attorney to protect your legal rights and mount the strongest defense possible. The purpose of this article is to explain elder abuse charges, and the penalties for conviction.
Elder Abuse May Be Prosecuted as a Misdemeanor or a Felony
California is a large and fast-growing state, and with that comes a large population of senior citizens. With this large number and expanding percentages of seniors in the California population, there are thousands of retirement communities, nursing homes, and other care facilities. It is at these facilities, where elder abuse sometimes occurs. Family members and caregivers are the individuals most commonly charged with elder abuse, and the crime is reported to personally impact over 14% of America’s seniors. The word “elder” itself refers to seniors – specifically, anyone who is sixty-five (65) years or older. The word “abuse” has a wider meaning, and includes more than physical abuse or acts of violence. Under California law, elder abuse may also take the form of emotional abuse, sexual abuse, neglect and endangerment, and financial abuse – all heinous crimes. Whether elder abuse is prosecuted as a felony or misdemeanor depends on a number of factors, including the defendant’s criminal history and the nature of alleged abuse.
Because elders are considered to be a vulnerable group within society, California punishes elder abuse harshly. Even a misdemeanor charge may be punished by probation, a one-year jail sentence, a fine of $6,000 (for a first-time offense), court-mandated counseling, and restitution to the victim. For a felony charge, conviction may result in a seven-year jail sentence if the abuse caused great bodily injury or death to the elder, and up to $10,000 in fines. Obviously, if you are a caregiver at retirement community, nursing home, or assisted care facility, a conviction will endanger your ability to obtain employment.
What to Do if You Have Been Charged With Elder Abuse in California
Not every elder abuse charge is legitimate. This is the case with every type of criminal charge. The truth is that sometimes innocent people are falsely accused. In a large retirement community or other facility with many caregivers and some elders with waning mental faculties, there are genuine instances of mistaken identity, false accusations, and mistaking intent for accident. For a conviction to be just, the facts must accurately detailed, and the state’s prosecutor must prove every element of the charges against you. If you have been falsely accused, mistaken for someone else, or involved in an accident that was nothing more than that – an accident – a skilled and experienced California criminal defense attorney will make that argument and mount the strongest possible legal defense upon your behalf. With your future, finances, and reputation at stake, contact a skilled attorney today.