Most people know that elder abuse is a crime in California. However, many people do not fully understand the crime of elder abuse under California Penal Code Section 368.
When you think of elder abuse, you may think of physical abuse of an elderly person or taking advantage of an elderly person for financial gain. However, there is much more covered under PC 368. Elder abuse can also be committed with words. Let’s take a look at how verbal abuse of an elderly person could be considered a crime.
Is Verbal Abuse of an Elderly Person Considered Elder Abuse? (PC 368)
Under PC 368, elder abuse is the act of willfully causing unjustified physical pain or mental suffering upon a person who is age 65 years or older or a dependent adult.
Examples of conduct that could rise to the level of elder abuse under PC 368 include:
- Physical abuse
- Emotional abuse
- Neglect; or
- Financial fraud or theft
So, under the definition of elder abuse, verbal abuse of an elderly person that causes unjustifiable mental suffering could be considered a violation of PC 368. Verbal abuse that could lead to criminal charges of elder abuse includes statements that threaten, humiliate or belittle the elderly victim.
It is also important to note that the court will consider your relationship to the victim when determining whether you are guilty of the crime of elder abuse under PC 368:
- If you are a caregiver or custodian of the elder adult (such as a nursing home employee or a home health provider), your conduct must be willful or criminally negligent in order to find you guilty of elder abuse
- If you are not a caregiver of the elder adult, your conduct must be willful or intentional to convict you of elder abuse. This means that you must have intentionally or purposefully injured or caused suffering to an elder adult.
- You could also be accused of elder abuse if you fail to supervise or control someone who you have the legal duty to supervise or control and that person commits elder abuse.
Evidence of Verbal Elder Abuse
In cases, involving verbal elder abuse, there is not likely to be physical evidence. So, what evidence will the prosecution attempt to use to prove you committed the crime?
The prosecution will rely upon any witnesses who can corroborate the claim of verbal abuse and the statements of the alleged victim. Additionally, the prosecutor may rely on expert witnesses, such as social workers and other investigators who are trained to look for symptoms of abuse.
Our skilled and knowledgeable elder abuse attorneys will attempt to attack the evidence to show that you did not commit the act of verbal elder abuse.
Punishment for Elder Abuse (PC 368)
Elder abuse is a wobbler offense, meaning it can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. If you are convicted of a first offense misdemeanor elder abuse, you face up to 364 days in county jail and a fine up to $6,000.
If you are convicted of felony elder abuse, you face up to four years in state prison and fines of up to $10,000.
Additionally, you may be ordered to pay restitution to the victim and attend counseling if you are convicted of elder abuse.
Contact the Elder Abuse Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Today
Elder abuse charges could lead to serious consequences. That is why it is vital that you speak to an experienced elder abuse attorney as soon as possible if you are charged with this crime. Our skilled criminal defense attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have more than 40 years of experience successfully defending clients facing elder abuse charges. Let us help you now.
With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, West Covina, Torrance, Los Angeles and San Diego, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich criminal defense attorney available to help you no matter where you are located.
Contact our offices today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will be there when you call.