Elder Abuse Laws in California – FAQs and Answers – California PC 368

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Our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich want to share some common questions we have received regarding California’s approach to criminal elder abuse laws.

Who is considered an elder adult or dependent adult?

Accordingly to the elder abuse laws in California, an elder adult is anyone who is at least 65 years old. A dependent adult is anyone who is between 18 and 64 years old and has physical or mental limitations that restrict his or her ability to carry out normal activities or protect his or her rights. Abuse relating to the treatment of either an elder adult or a dependent adult is covered under CA Penal Code section 368.

What are some examples of elder abuse?

California elder abuse laws - pc 368
Under California law, elder abuse includes any type of physical or mental abuse or neglect.

Physical abuse:

  • Includes both physical and sexual assault
  • Restraining or confining the victim in an unreasonable manner or for an unreasonable amount of time
  • Inappropriate administering of chemical or psychotropic drugs

Mental abuse:

  • Verbal threats and intimidation
  • Prolonged isolation
  • Creating an atmosphere of fear to ensure the victim complies with the abuser’s wishes


  • Includes both physical and mental abuse
  • Failing to administer medication in a timely manner
  • Failing to assist the victim with personal hygiene
  • Failing to ensure adequate nutrition of the victim


Are care custodians held to a higher standard than everyone else?

Yes, under California’s elder abuse laws, care custodians can be convicted of elder abuse if their conduct was either willful or criminally negligent. Negligence is easier to prove because your failure to take action can give rise to an elder abuse charge if it places the elder is a situation likely to cause great bodily injury. If the victim was not in your custody or care at the time of the alleged abuse, the prosecution must show that your conduct was willful. Willful conduct is more difficult to prove because the prosecution must show that you intended or purposely caused harm to the elder adult.

What does it mean to cause “unjustifiable physical pain or mental suffering”?

“Unjustifiable physical pain or suffering” is defined as pain or suffering that is either excessive under the circumstances, or not reasonably necessary.  Although restraining an elder adult may be justifiable in certain situations, restraints that are clearly unreasonable or excessive are a form of elder abuse. Reasonableness is determined on a case by case basis and will depend on all the circumstances present at the time of alleged abuse.

Can elder abuse include financial exploitation?

Yes. The elder abuse laws per California Penal Code section 368(d), (e) allow for additional punishments for crimes such as forgery, embezzlement, theft, fraud, or identity theft if the victim was an elder adult.

I have more questions regarding California elder abuse laws. Where can I find the answers?

Elder abuse laws in California - criminal defense attorneys
Contact the attorneys at Wallin & Klarich today

If you have questions regarding California elder laws, we have the answers. With offices in Orange County, Los Angeles, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, Victorville and West Covina, Wallin & Klarich has over 40 years of experience in successfully representing Southern California residents who have been charged with elder abuse and neglect. We are always available to answer any questions you have regarding California elder law and are willing to go the extra mile in your defense.

Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 or fill out our intake form. We will be there when you call.

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