Definition of Elder Abuse
Elder abuse in the state of California can be defined as mistreatment of an elder (aged 65 years or older) or dependent adult (between the ages of 18 and 64 with physical or mental limitations) living either within a home or an institution. Common types of abuse are physical abuse (causing pain or injury), psychological (causing mental anguish), sexual (assault or rape), financial (using property or money without consent), abandonment, neglect (lack of reasonable care), abduction (taking the elder out of the state without consent), isolation (purposely preventing communication and contact) and self-neglect (an elder refusing to care for themselves to the point of harm).
California law requires that certain individuals must report elder abuse if they are witness to it. These individuals include those who have been entrusted to care for the elder and mandated reporters who have witnessed or have knowledge of an abusive event. The identity of the person who has reported the crime is confidential.
How to Report
Elders who are in immediate danger will need immediate assistance and it is requested to call 911. Abuse in a long-term care facility can be reported through law enforcement or with the Local Ombudsman Program at 1-800-231-4024. Outside of a care facility, abuse can be reported to Adult Protective Services or law enforcement.
Those found guilty of causing direct elder abuse by the State of California are punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for up to one year or in a state prison for two, three or four years depending on the extent of the crime. Parties found guilty of injury or death to an elder will receive extended jail time based on the age of the elder. Those found guilty of permitting the abuse will be charged with a misdemeanor and/or be required to pay a fine.
Elder abuse in the state of California works under special considerations because, as the law states, “they [the elder] may be confused, on various medications, mentally or physically impaired, or incompetent, and therefore less able to protect themselves, to understand or report criminal conduct, or to testify in court proceedings on their own behalf.” (California Penal Code, Section 368)