Thursday, January 14, 2016

Fighting Elder Abuse Charges in California

Under California law, almost any crime can be treated as "elder abuse" if the victim is 65 or older, or if the victim is considered a "dependent adult" under the age of 65.

The most serious cases of elder abuse may involve allegations of physical mistreatment or blatant theft.  Fraudulent "home repair men" demand cash up front for services that they never perform. Phone scammers induce elderly victims to wire cash overseas.  Abusive relatives and caregivers drain bank accounts and leave grandma without appropriate care.  These are some egregious examples.

Many cases that are charged as "elder abuse", though, do not involve physical "abuse" in the ordinary sense of the term.  Most of the situations that I've dealt with in my practice involve people who spend money belonging to their elderly parents.  Often, the "victim" has allowed a son or daughter to sign checks, access bank accounts, and pay bills as necessary.  The elderly parent's health and mental faculties deteriorate to the point where they do not understand their own finances, or they don't remember ever authorizing the financial transactions in question. Somebody at the bank or the nursing home becomes suspicious and reports the activity to police or to Adult Protective Services.  By the time reports reach the DA's desk, investigators have compiled a case that sounds much worse than it probably is.

Other common situations of "elder abuse" that I've defended against involve cases where a family member has assumed the responsibility of providing care for an aging relative.  Before long, the caregiver finds that she is in over her head and that nursing an elderly patient is more time-consuming, expensive and exhausting than she could have imagined.  The caregiver lacks the necessary skills to provide in-home medical treatment, and the care that she attempts to provide falls below the standard that is considered acceptable.  Clients tell me that they sincerely tried to provide appropriate care, but they were simply overwhelmed with the demands of assisting an elderly family member.

If you or a loved one is accused of elder abuse in Orange County, Los Angeles, Riverside or San Bernardino, call our office immediately for a free consultation.  (714) 505-2468.

Do not speak to investigators, detectives, representatives from the Probate Court, emergency responders or hospital staff without an attorney present.  In my experience, those people have already determined that you are guilty of elder abuse in some form. They will attempt to induce you to say something against your interests, or something that could potentially be twisted against you.

If you are currently caring for an elderly relative and you believe that you've "bitten off more than you can chew", there are resources available to help you.  Call us to discuss your options before the matter turns into a criminal case.

Thanks for reading.

Orange County Elder Abuse Defense Lawyer