Elder Abuse California Laws 2023 – All You Need to Know

When your loved ones begin to age, you are presented with a lot of important and difficult decisions. Caring for an elderly loved one is complicated and often puts family members in a difficult situation. Many people ultimately decide that nursing homes, residential care, or in-house nursing services are the best way to meet their loved one’s needs.

Many of these options are legitimate and truly help your aging loved one to live happily and comfortably. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Whenever a vulnerable person, such as an elderly individual, is under the care of someone else, they are susceptible to elder abuse. This kind of activity is cruel, illegal, and eligible for legal punishment.

Whether you have an elderly loved one or are anticipating that stage of their life, it is important to know how to identify and stop elder abuse. The more you know how to spot this kind of treatment, the more empowered you will be to stop it.

Types of Elder Abuse

Just as with other types of abuse, there are many different ways that elder abuse can occur. In fact, every occurrence of elder abuse is different, which can make it difficult to identify. However, there are some main categories of elder abuse that are important to know. These categories include:

  • Physical abuse. This includes actions such as kicking, hitting, punching, etc.
  • Sexual abuse. This includes rape, trafficking, etc.
  • Emotional abuse. Manipulation, harassment, and gas lighting all fall under this category.
  • Financial abuse. This type of abuse is often categorized as stealing money or coercing an elderly individual to alter their will.

These types of abuse can all occur in either a domestic or institutionalized setting. Anyone caring for an elderly individual, whether they are a family member or a medical professional, is in a position to inflict abuse if they so choose. It is important to never assume that your loved one is not being abused, but rather always be on the lookout for signs and symptoms.

Signs of Elder Abuse

It is important to be able to recognize elder abuse as it is occurring. Some common signs of elder abuse include:

  • Bruising, scarring, or other bodily marks
  • Poor hygiene
  • Sudden onset of mental illness symptoms
  • Weight loss

It can be difficult to spot elder abuse right away, especially with situations involving bedsore injuries. Always be on the lookout for the above symptoms. Work closely with your loved one’s care team to ensure that your loved one is receiving proper attention. Investigate any claims that your loved one makes about abuse or neglect situations.

Penalties for Elder Abuse

California law outlines punishments for those who abuse elders. The punishments often depend on the age of the elderly individual. The older the victim is, the more harsh the punishment will be. This is because advanced age brings vulnerability and a decreased ability to defend oneself.

For inflicting physical or mental pain of any kind, a perpetrator faces up to a year in county jail and a fine of up to $6,000.

If the abuse causes significant bodily injury, the perpetrator faces three years in state prison if the victim is under 70 and 5 years if the victim is over 70.

If the abuse causes the victim to die, the abuser faces five years in prison if the victim was under 70 and 8 years if the victim was over 70.

When an individual knows that an elderly individual is in a dangerous or unhealthy situation and does not take reasonable action to stop it, they are negligent. For this, they face a misdemeanor charge, up to $2,000 in fines, and up to 1 year in county jail, depending on the situation.

Even those who are not in a care taking position can be charged if they steal or embezzle money from an elderly individual. In many cases, these abusers face fines ranging from $1,000 to $2,000 and jail time.

FAQs About California Elder Abuse Laws

How Can I Help Someone Who May Have Experienced Elder Abuse?

If you suspect that someone you know or love is experiencing elder abuse, you should call the police and get them medical attention. Your next best course of action is to get an attorney involved. Elder abuse attorneys like our team at Belgum, Fry & Van Allen can expertly identify and navigate situations of elder abuse. It is important to move quickly in these scenarios. If you believe that your loved one is being abused, remain nearby until you can move them to a safe location.

Are There Criminal Penalties for Elder Abuse?

Yes. The state of California is not lenient on those who abuse the elderly. The punishment will depend upon the severity and type of abuse, as well as the age and health condition of the victim. Punishments range from a fine to many years in prison, depending on the situation. Healthcare professionals and caregivers may also lose their licenses or ability to continue in their careers. Elder abuse offenses are wobblers, so they can be categorized as misdemeanors or felonies.

What Makes an Older Adult Vulnerable to Abuse?

Many people lose strength, ability, and dexterity as they age. Because of this, they are less able to fight against physical abuse. Many elderly individuals become confused or are perceived as being unreliable, so many people do not believe them when they report abuse situations. Many elderly individuals have significant financial resources, meaning that they are targets for financial abuse. Overall, elderly people are less able to fight for themselves, meaning that abusers may take advantage of them.

What Are the Warning Signs of Elder Abuse?

There are many signs of elder abuse, including bruises, depression, anxiety, poor hygiene, malnutrition, and declining overall health. If you have any suspicion that your loved one is being abused, contact the authorities. It is best to investigate and find no abuse than to leave a vulnerable elderly person in an abusive situation.

Contact Belgum, Fry & Van Allen

If you believe an elderly loved one is in an abusive situation, you can take legal action to protect them. Our team can help. For more information, please contact Belgum, Fry & Van Allen online today.