California Penal Code Section 368 PC – Elder Abuse
California Penal Code Section 368 PC makes it a crime to engage in behavior that constitutes elder abuse. Elder abuse comes in a variety of forms. Abuse can be emotional abuse, physical abuse, or taking advantage of an elderly person financially. According to 368 PC, an elder is an individual who is 65 years or older. An individual who engages in elder abuse will receiver a harsher punishment the older the elder being abused.
PC 368 can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the conduct involved and the age of the victim of elder abuse. If you have been charged with elder abuse, you should immediately contact an elder abuse attorney at The H Law Group to defend you and keep you from going to prison. Schedule your free consultation today by filling out the contact form below or by calling us at 1 (213) 370-0404.
Text of the Elder Abuse Statute – California Penal Code 368 PC
According to California Penal Code Section 368 PC, “A person who knows or reasonably should know that a person is an elder or dependent adult and who, under circumstances or conditions likely to produce great bodily harm or death, willfully causes or permits any elder or dependent adult to suffer, or inflicts thereon unjustifiable physical pain or mental suffering, or having the care or custody of an elder or dependent adult, willfully causes or permits the person or health of the elder or dependent adult to be injured, or willfully causes or permits the elder or dependent adult to be placed in a situation in which his or her person or health is endangered, is punishable by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year, or by a fine not to exceed six thousand dollars ($6,000), or by both that fine and imprisonment, or by imprisonment in the state prison for two, three, or four years.”
The code section also outlines other conduct that constitutes elder abuse, such conduct includes:
- Physically abusing an elderly person
- Mentally abusing an elderly person
- Neglecting an elderly person
- Financially exploiting an elderly person
Proving an Individual Guilty of Abusing an Elderly Person Under CPC Section 368
For the prosecution to convict an individual and prove him guilty of elder abuse, the prosecution must establish the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt. If the prosecution fails to even prove one of the elements, it cannot convict an individual of elder abuse. To prove an individual guilty of elder abuse charges, the prosecution must prove the following elements:
- The defendant acted intentionally or with criminal neglect
- Causing an elderly person
- To suffer physical or mental pain
- The defendant’s conduct was likely to produce great bodily injury or death to an elderly person, and
- The defendant knew or should have known that he was dealing with an elderly person (65 years of age or older)
Penalties for Elder Abuse
If the prosecution convicts an individual of elder abuse under section 368 PC, an individual faces different penalties depending on whether he or she is convicted of misdemeanor elder abuse or felony elder abuse. Here are some of the penalties an individual faces if convicted:
- Conviction of a felony
- Imprisonment on California State Prison for up to four years
- A fine of up to $10,000
- Payment of restitution to the victim of elder abuse
- Conviction of a misdemeanor
- Jailed for up to 12 months in county jail
- A fine of up to $6000
- Payment of restitution to the victim of elder abuse
Note: If the victim of elder abuse is 70 years or older, the defendant can face additional prison time. Also, if the defendant’s elder abuse results in great bodily injury or death of an elderly person, the defendant faces a lengthier prison sentence. Remember, that Section 368 PC is a wobbler, meaning the prosecution can charge the crime of elder abuse as either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the egregiousness of the defendant’s conduct.
Examples of Elder Abuse
A woman works at a nursing home that takes care of those who are 65 years or older. The woman is tired of working at a nursing home so she decides not to feed an elderly man for a week. The elderly man is taken to a hospital where he is hospitalized for severe dehydration. The woman can be charged with and convicted of elderly abuse because she has a duty to ensure the wellbeing of residents at the elderly home, and by intentionally refusing to feed an elderly person, her conduct was likely to cause great bodily injury making it highly likely that she will be convicted of elder abuse.
A man works at a nursing home that takes care of those who are 65 years or older. The man often finds cash in one of the elderly person’s drawers that he takes care of and so he takes it for himself. The man can be charged with and convicted of financially abusing an elderly person.
A woman works at a nursing home and she forgets to feed an elderly man for two weeks. The man suffers from starvation and dehydration. The woman is likely to be convicted of elder abuse because she has a duty to take care of the residents of the nursing home. Her behavior can easily been seen as criminal neglect, allowing the prosecution to convict her of elder abuse under California Penal Code Section 368.
A man takes care of elderly persons and he ridicules a man for being in a wheelchair and soiling himself. This causes severe emotional distress to the elderly man. The man can be charged with elder abuse for emotionally abusing the elderly man.
Defense to Elder Abuse Charges Under California Penal Code Section 368 PC
If you have been charged with elder abuse, there are a variety of defenses that your attorney can make to defend you. This list of defenses is not exhaustive of all defenses that your attorney can make, rather, it serves as a list of some of the defenses that may be available to you. Here are some of the defenses to elder abuse:
- The defendant did not act intentionally
- The defendant did not act with criminal negligence
- The defendant did not abuse an elderly person
- The person is not an elder (under age 65)
- The defendant is falsely being accused of elder abuse
Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney
If you or a loved one has been charged with elder abuse under California Penal Code Section 368 PC, you should immediately contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent you and fight for you. This crime can result in serious prison, so for the best possible outcome, you should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at The H Law Group to defend you and ensure that you have the best legal representation. Schedule your free consultation today by filling out the contact form below or by calling us at 1 (213) 370-0404.