A vulnerable adult is a person 18 years of age or older, whose ability to perform the normal activities of daily living or to provide for their own care or protection is impaired due to disability, brain damage, or the infirmities of aging. Examples of abuse of a vulnerable adult include physical abuse that consists of improper touching, hitting, slapping, punching, burn marks, choke marks, and broken bones.
Other examples of abuse could be sexual abuse, taking advantage of somebody’s vulnerability to engage in sexual behavior and unwanted sexual acts. Abuse can include the allegations of neglect such as improper care, improper nutrition, or failure to report medical problems or issues, destruction of property, and theft of property as well.
Vulnerable adults abuse charges can damage someone’s reputation, especially because it is an offense that involves harming those who cannot care for themselves but, an experienced defense lawyer can help. If you face vulnerable adults abuse charges, contact a Ft. Lauderdale vulnerable adults abuse lawyer who can work hard to make sure your rights are protected in your case.
What the Prosecution Must Prove
For charges of abuse of a vulnerable adult, Florida statutes define abuse as any willful act or threatened act by a relative, caregiver, or household member which causes or is likely to cause significant impairment to a vulnerable adult’s physical, mental, or emotional health. Abuse also includes acts or omissions and neglect and is prosecuted in Fort Lauderdale with respect to vulnerable adults.
Vulnerable Adult Neglect
Neglect is defined by the failure or omission on the part of a caregiver of a vulnerable adult to provide the care, supervision, and services necessary to maintain the physical and mental health of the vulnerable adult that includes, but is not limited to, food, clothing, medicine, shelter, supervision, and medical services which a prudent person considers essential for the well-being of a vulnerable adult.
The term neglect also means the failure of a caregiver of a vulnerable adult to make a reasonable effort to protect a vulnerable adult from abuse, neglect, or exploitation by others.
Exploitation means a person who stands in a position of trust and confidence with a vulnerable adult who knowingly by deception or intimidation, obtains, uses, or endeavors to obtain or use a vulnerable adult’s funds, assets, or property with the intent to temporarily or permanently deprive the vulnerable adult of the use, benefit, or possession of the funds, assets or property for the benefit of someone other than the vulnerable adult.
Exploitation also includes a person knows or should know that a vulnerable adult lacks the capacity to consent and obtains, uses, or endeavors to obtain or use the vulnerable adult’s funds, assets, or property with the intent to temporarily or permanently deprive a vulnerable adult of the use, benefit, or possession of the funds, assets or property for the benefit of someone other than the vulnerable adult.
Potential Defenses Against Vulnerable Adult Abuse Charges
A common defense a Ft. Lauderdale vulnerable adults abuse lawyer would use against allegations of abuse of a vulnerable adult is that an individual in a position as a caregiver did not breach the standard of care commonly administered to persons in these situations. Another common defense is that a person who makes a good faith effort to assist a vulnerable adult, an elderly person, or a disabled adult in the management of their funds, assets, or property, can rely on good faith assistance as a defense in these types of cases even if those efforts are not fruitful or they fail. There are other types of defenses such as the lack of evidence, reasonable doubt, and self-defense on these types of cases as well.
Criminal penalties depend on the crime charged. A person who willfully or by culpable negligence attacks an elderly person or disabled adult and, in so doing, causes great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement can be prosecuted with a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in Florida State Prison.
Alternatively, a person who willfully or by culpable negligence neglects an elderly person or disabled adult without causing great bodily harm, permanent disability or permanent disfigurement to the elderly person or disabled adult commits a felony of the third-degree.
There are different types of prosecutions for sexual misconduct and theft that depend on the facts and circumstances of the particular case. Criminal penalties depend on the allegations, but more often than not, a person can expect to face a felony prosecution when being prosecuted for any alleged acts against vulnerable adults.
Contacting an Attorney
If you have been charged with abuse of a vulnerable adult, you should contact a Fort Lauderdale vulnerable adults abuse lawyer as soon as possible. The sooner a Ft. Lauderdale vulnerable adults abuse lawyer can get involved in the case, the better. The attorney might be able to intervene and steer the investigation in a different direction.