Understanding Penal Code 368: How Does California Define Elder Abuse and Neglect

Penal Code 368 defines what California determines as the crime of elder abuse. Specifically, it categorizes elders and even adults who depend on 24-hour assistance from a health facility stemming from physical and mental issues as deserving special protection under the law.

The elder and dependent adult laws in the state of California vary greatly. Specifically, Penal Code 368 outlines the way that elder and dependent adult abuse can escalate to being tried as a criminal offense.

What Is the Difference Between Criminal Law and Civil Law?

The best way to differentiate between criminal law and civil law is to look at the two following factors:

  1. Criminal Law, which includes Penal Code 368, generally deals with offenses that can be considered detrimental to the state or society. It is meant to punish the wrongdoer. These offenses are prosecuted by the district attorneys’ offices on behalf of the people of the state rather than by an individual and their private attorney.
  2. Civil Law, which is the specialization of Belgum, Fry & Van Allen is an area of law that focuses on wrongs done to individuals or private property. In these types of cases, the lawsuit is not pursued by the state or any government entity, but rather a private citizen seeking monetary damages.

In summary, in civil law, a lawsuit can be brought to court by a private citizen and/or their representation. However, in criminal law, the lawsuit must be initiated by federal or state governments.

Although Belgum, Fry & Van Allen doesn’t specialize in the criminal aspects of elder and dependent adult abuse and neglect, we’re always willing to help facilitate proposed solutions to bring abusive and neglectful health professionals to justice.

Understanding Penal Code 368: The 5 Key Takeaways

Penal Code 368 outlines 12 different sections and is worth reading in full if you believe you’ve had an elderly or dependent loved one abused or neglected at the hands of nursing homes, or their dedicated caretaker.

After reading the law, keep in mind the 3 key points related to this code:

  1. Violators of Penal Code 368 can face up to a maximum of 4 years in state prison and/or a fine of up to $6,000. Certain variables can extend the sentence as well. These variables include:
    1. An additional three years if the victim is 70 years old or younger.
    2. An additional five years if the victim is over 70 years old.
    3. If the victim was 70 years old or younger, and the abuse or neglect led to death, an additional five years.
    4. If the victim was 70 years or older, and the abuse or neglect led to death, an additional 7 years.
  2. An elder is defined as anyone 65 years or older. This law also protects dependent adults under the age of 65.
  3. A caretaker is defined as the person who has the care, custody, or control of an elder or dependent adult.

Elder or Dependent Adult Abuse Cannot Be Tolerated

If you believe you or an elderly or dependent loved one has been abused at the hands of a family member, or health professional, don’t wait to bring them justice. The attorneys at Belgum, Fry & Van Allen offer a free evaluation form that concerned family members can use to get a free assessment of their case.