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Is Elder Abuse Domestic Violence?

Abuse occurs in many ways, and it can happen to anybody. When discussing abuse as opposed to assault, we are typically talking about the abuse of a domestic partner, a cohabitant, a child, or another family member. In California, domestic violence is a serious issue, and there are laws devoted specifically towards handling domestic violence charges. Here, we want to discuss whether or not elder abuse is actually considered domestic violence.

What Does California Law Define as Domestic Violence?

In the state of California, domestic violence is a broad term used to classify various types of assault that can be charged and punished in different ways depending on the relationship between the parties involved. Domestic violence can result in a misdemeanor or a felony charge, and these offenses typically revolve around a person inflicting an injury on a spouse, former spouse, cohabitant, partner, parent of a child, etc. (Penal Code Section 273.5).

What is Elder Abuse in California?

California law deals specifically with elder abuse outside of the domestic violence language in the code of laws. Elder abuse in the state is defined as any abuse or mistreatment that is harmful or painful and directed at somebody over the age of 65 or someone who is a dependent disabled adult, unable to conduct normal activities, or unable to protect themselves.

There are various crimes that could be construed as elder abuse in this state. This is similar to the way that the domestic violence laws operate in California. Some of the most common forms of elder abuse can include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Physical abuse
  • Abandonment (such as a caregiver ceasing care for an elderly person)
  • Deprivation of basic necessities (if the elderly person cannot care for themselves)
  • Neglect
  • Abduction
  • Harmful or painful treatment (physical or mental)
  • Financial abuse
  • Manipulation (to include convincing a person to give then power of attorney)

Domestic violence can include many of the types of descriptions of abuse listed above. However, elder abuse is not necessarily domestic violence. It is not necessary for the perpetrator of elder abuse to have had an intimate or live-in relationship with the abuse victim in order for them to face elderly abuse charges.

One similarity between domestic violence and elder abuse offenses has to do with the fact that these charges are typically punished more harshly than other crimes. Elder-adult abuse is typically punished more harshly because these abuse victims are usually in positions of vulnerability, and they rely on caregivers for their daily needs.

Similar to domestic violence cases, elder abuse victims can get restraining orders against the perpetrators of their abuse. Additionally, those convicted of elderly abuse could face jail or prison time as well as major fines.

Helping Victims of Elderly Abuse

If you or somebody you love has been the victim of elder abuse in California, you may need to seek assistance from an attorney as soon as possible. These cases can become incredibly complex, particularly when working to hold the abuser responsible for their actions. A skilled elder abuse attorney in California can investigate what happened, gather the evidence needed to determine liability, and help victims obtain compensation for their injuries and other losses.