Defining the Victim
Abuse comes in many forms, and these forms often depend on whom the victim is. While the abuse of a domestic partner, a cohabitant, a child, or a family member are all potentially punishable offenses, they can result in different charges and thus different sentences. One of the lesser-known forms of abuse is elder abuse. Although not well understood, elder abuse is actually a significant problem among California's elderly population. Let's take a look at just what constitutes elder abuse and what the consequence of such an offense can be.
Elder Abuse Defined
Under California law, elder abuse is defined as abuse or mistreatment that is harmful or painful and that is directed at someone who is over the age of 65 or who is a dependent adult who is disabled, unable to do normal activities (such as take care of oneself) or protect him or herself.
Many different crimes can comprise elder abuse just like many different crimes can comprise domestic violence. Common forms of elder abuse include but are not limited to:
- Physical abuse
- Neglect (often seen in nursing homes)
- Abandonment (such as a family caregiver ceasing care for the elder)
- Deprivation of basic necessities (especially if the elder cannot care for him or herself)
- Harmful or painful treatment (physical or mental)
- Financial abuse (such as identity theft or scams)
- Manipulation (such as convincing someone to give you power of attorney so you can take advantage of that right)
What's the Difference?
Domestic violence can include many of these offenses and could indeed be directed toward someone who fits the above description, but elder abuse is not necessarily domestic violence. It is possible, however, for the victim of abuse to be both an elder and someone whom you have or had a close or intimate relationship with. In these cases, whether the offense is charged as elder abuse or domestic violence can make a big difference.
These distinctions are important. Small disparities in how such offenses are defined can have significant repercussions for a convicted defendant. Domestic violence crimes are prosecuted a certain way and by certain units. Convicted defendants face a host of serious consequences unique to domestic violence crimes in particular. These include attending batterers' intervention classes, revocation of firearm rights, and even deportation.
It is important to note that both domestic violence and elder abuse offenses are typically punished more harshly than other crimes against persons. This is for obvious reasons. Domestic violence incidents are particularly dangerous and result in far too many deaths each year. Elder and dependent adult abuse is harshly punished because often elders and dependent adults are in a position of vulnerability and rely on caregivers for basic care and support. In this respect, elders occupy a category similar to that of children. Accordingly, the penalties for elder abuse and domestic violence for that matter are generally steeper than for other crimes.
Elder abuse cases are treated as their own type of crime and are punished accordingly, but it is possible for the offense to fall under both definitions. Just like with domestic violence cases, you can also get a restraining order for elder abuse. You could potentially be jailed and/or fined for violating an elder abuse restraining order, so it is important to understand the restrictions you might face if you are subject to one. If you are in this scenario, you need to speak with an experienced California domestic violence defense attorney about your case. If you are facing charges, an attorney can explain what those charges mean and what penalties you could face. If you are concerned about being charged with domestic violence, an attorney may be able to investigate the facts and circumstances of your case and can disprove allegations of domestic violence if the victim does not fall under the definition of domestic violence victim.
Are you in the Visalia or Tulare area and facing abuse or domestic violence charges? At The Law Offices of Christopher Martens, we are experienced in criminal defense and can tenaciously fight for your rights in court. Criminal defense attorney Christopher Martens has successfully represented clients in criminal trials in Fresno, Tulare, and Kings Counties for over ten years and will not be afraid to take your case all the way to trial. Contact our Visalia or Hanford, CA offices at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] to discuss your case.