Elder abuse is defined under California statute 15610.07 abuse of an elderly person or a dependent adult. It is defined as neglecting, exploiting, or inflicting painful or harmful mistreatment on a person 65 years old or older. The statute also applies to the mistreatment of anyone 18 to 64 years old who is classified as a dependent individual. It can be committed by anyone, such as a nursing home worker, a family member, or a person providing respite care.

Isolation and abandonment are many examples of elder abuse. In addition, keeping the elderly person from seeing others or leaving the elderly person without needed care that they would need is another example of elder abuse. One other example of elder abuse is financial elder abuse. Financial elder abuse includes  stealing money from them, improper use of bank accounts, real estate, or other property through fraud or breach of fiduciary duty to safeguard their assets. Many people who are in control of an elderly want to take advantage of a person's Will or Estate commit financial elder abuse.

Some signs that an elder individual is being abused are the following:

Possible Physical Abuse and Neglect Signs: The following are signs for recognizing signs of physical elder abuse:

  • Bruises, swelling on body
  • Unexplained weight loss, malnutrition and/or dehydration, bedsores.
  • physical injury: Painful reaction 
  • skin damage and broken bones.

Possible Behavioral Indicators

  • Agitation
  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Defensiveness
  • Denial
  • Depression
  • Fear
  • Helplessness
  • Hesitation to talk openly
  • Implausible stories
  • Non responsiveness
  • Withdrawal

What Actions Does the Statute Count as Abuse?

Elder abuse or the abuse of a dependent person includes the following actions:

  • False imprisonment
  • Physical violence
  • Abandonment
  • Neglect
  • Isolation
  • Taking money
  • Taking property
  • Psychological abuse

How Does California Define Physical Elderly Abuse?

Physical abuse against an elderly person includes:

  • Sexual assault
  • Assault
  • Battery
  • Unreasonable physical restraint
  • Assault with a deadly weapon
  • Chemical restraint such as medication

Is Elder Abuse the Same as Domestic Violence in California?

No. Domestic violence is abuse directed at a spouse, domestic partner, former domestic partner, or family member. However, a case of domestic violence where the victim qualifies as an elderly person or a dependent adult can be treated as elderly abuse.

What Is the Punishment for Elder Abuse?

In California, an elder abuse conviction is treated as a wobbler. A “wobbler” refers to a crime that could be a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances. Under CA Penal Code 368, punishment for elder abuse can consist of:

  • One year in county jail and a $6,000 fine for a misdemeanor conviction, or
  • Two to four years in county jail for a felony conviction.

Does California Apply Enhanced Penalties to an Abusing the Elderly Conviction?

Yes. The punishment for a conviction increases if the victim:

  • Sustains great bodily injury. The court will add three more years to the sentence if the victim was 70 years old or younger. It will be four more years if the victim was over 70 years old.
  • Dies because of the abuse. The court will add five more years to the sentence if the victim was younger than 70 years old. If the victim is 70 years old or older, seven years is added to the conviction.

Do I Need an Attorney If I Am Charged with Elder Abuse?

Yes. An elder abuse charge is a serious crime, especially since it can result in a felony conviction if you do not properly defend yourself against all criminal charges. A California criminal defense attorney will help you fight any charges being brought against you, and will explain the available defense options to you.