Elder abuse is defined as the physical or emotional abuse, neglect, or victimization of a person who is 65 years of age or older under California Penal Code 368 PC. The crime is punishable by up to 4 years in jail or prison and may be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or felony.
Not all levels of elderly abuse will be a felony. It is important to know the distinction between felony and misdemeanor and when it is your responsibility to bring a lawsuit against the nursing home or the state’s responsibility to pursue criminal actions. In criminal proceedings, the state will be responsible for bringing a case against the wrongdoer. However, this does not bar the victims from bringing their own civil lawsuits for personal injury.
Examples of Elderly Crimes at the Felony Level
Crimes under Penal Code 368(b)(1), (2), and (3) will typically be a felony level crime punishable by 2-7 years in prison, depending on the level of abuse. Abuse of elders under this provision must reach the level that is likely to “produce great bodily harm or death.” If the abuse is not likely to produce great or bodily harm, then it fails under Penal Code 368(c) and will be a misdemeanor punishable by six months in jail and/or a fine of $1,000.
Additional elements under the law to show felony elder abuse require that the defendant willfully or with criminal negligence, inflicted harm on the elderly person, and that the person was 65 years or older. Summarized, the three elements for felony elderly abuse are:
- Willfully or criminal negligence
- Conduct did or was likely to produce great bodily harm
- The victim was 65 or older
If the great bodily harm element was not meant, then the parameters of a felony crime will not be met, and it likely is a misdemeanor.
Charging Someone with Felony Elderly Abuse
If there is abuse, the crime should be reported to authorities so a police report can be filed. To hold someone criminally liable, the state must open a case against them. Once this is done, it is important to monitor the case to see if that person is found guilty of the crime.
If they are determined to be at fault, you might be entitled to file a civil lawsuit to demand money damages from them. Criminal proceedings differ from those in civil court. Victims may receive financial recompense in civil court. Criminal courts prioritize incarcerating wrongdoers as retribution.
You may receive cash compensation as a result of a civil case for nursing home mistreatment to cover medical expenses and enhance your standard of living. As a result of the suffering you experienced, you have the right to request this compensation.
Hiring an Attorney
Depending on where it occurs and how severe it is, elder abuse can be either a misdemeanor or a felony. Careless neglect is an example of misdemeanor elder abuse, but assaulting an elderly person in a nursing facility is an example of felony elder abuse.
The first thing you should do if you have any suspicions of abuse is call the police so they can look into the suspected crime. Next, you should contact legal counsel to determine legal alternatives and discover whether there is any potential for recompense.
Contact nursing home abuse attorneys Joel Bryant today for a free consultation regarding your case. Reach us by phone at (619) 597-2577 or through our online form.