Allowing others to take care of our loved ones during their golden years requires a good deal of trust, and unfortunately that trust is sometimes misplaced. While elder abuse claims are often filed against nursing homes it is important to realize that these crimes are also committed in private residences. In fact, a middle-aged couple in Riverside County was recently arrested and charged with several crimes against the elderly including financial elder abuse and false imprisonment.
NBC Los Angeles reports that an 84-year-old-woman was looking for a care facility for her 94-year-old husband who was struggling with Alzheimer’s disease when she found an advertisement offering a room and caregiving services at the defendants’ home. According to the sheriff’s office, the elderly woman placed her husband in the defendants’ care in August 2015, but in April 2016 one of defendants came to the elderly woman’s home and cajoled her into also relocating to the caregivers’ home. Allegedly, one of the defendants ‘persuaded’ her to relocated by taking her keys and checkbook, driving her to his residence, and then not allowing her to leave. The elderly woman was able to contact Riverside County’s Adult Protective Services two weeks later and was rescued. It appears that the defendants tried to drain the elderly couple’s bank accounts as well as gain control over their retirement income by submitting false documents to the Social Security Administration.
What Is Financial Elder Abuse?
While elder abuse takes many forms, financial elder abuse is one of the most prevalent. In California, our elder abuse laws apply to anyone who is 65-years-old or older, regardless of their physical or mental capabilities. Therefore, California’s financial elder abuse law, defined in the California Welfare & Institutions Code §15610.30, applies when the victim is over 65 and essentially prohibits taking, or assisting another person in taking, an elderly person’s assets:
- For a wrongful use,
- With the intent to defraud, or
- By undue influence.
While this crime spans a broad spectrum of conduct, the type of financial abuse that the defendants in the case outlined above allegedly committed looks to be fairly classic. If they did in fact attempt to drain the elderly couple’s bank accounts for a wrongful purpose and attempted to gain access to the couple’s retirement income via fraudulent means, they will likely will be convicted of financial elder abuse in California and face fines as well as possible jail time.
What Is False Imprisonment?
The defendants in the case outlined above were charged with ‘false imprisonment’, but what does that actually mean? Each state has their own definition of false imprisonment, but in California, under California Penal Code section 236, the crime of false imprisonment is defined as the unlawful violation of the personal liberty of another. This is a serious crime that is punished by both monetary fines and jail time with increased punishments if the victim is an elderly person and the crime involved violence, menace, fraud, or deceit.
How Can We Help?
If you or a loved one has been victimized by elder abuse, contact the Case Barnett Law Firm today for a free consultation to discuss your legal options. Our Southern California elder law attorneys would be happy to help you and can be reached at (949) 861-2990.