Prosecutions for vulnerable adult abuse have drastically increased in recent years. In fact, more than 800 people in Florida have been charged with elder abuse and neglect in the past five years. The majority of those charged with vulnerable adult abuse are considered caregivers, which refers to any person who has been entrusted with or has assumed responsibility for the care or the property of an elderly person or disabled adult.
If you are being investigated for or have been charged with abuse of an elderly person or disabled adult in the West Palm Beach area, you should contact a skilled domestic violence attorney immediately to discuss your legal options. West Palm Beach vulnerable adults abuse lawyers can help you prepare a defense strategy to contest the charges against you and fight for the best possible outcome in your case.
Who is Considered a Vulnerable Adult in Florida?
In Florida, the term vulnerable adults apply to elderly persons and disabled adults. An elderly person is considered anyone aged 60 or older who is experiencing the infirmities of aging and whose ability to provide adequately for his or her own care or protection is impaired because of brain damage, or other physical, mental, or emotional dysfunction.
A disabled adult is defined as a person 18 years of age or older who suffers from physical or mental incapacitation due to a developmental disability, brain damage, or mental illness, or who has one or more physical or mental impairments that limit the person’s ability to perform the normal activities of daily living. An attorney could try arguing the accuser’s physical qualities do not add up. This description may be a relevant part of a West Palm Beach vulnerable adults abuse lawyers defense presentation in court.
Abuse of Elderly or Disabled Adults in Florida
Florida criminalizes the abuse, neglect, and exploitation of vulnerable adults. The abuse of vulnerable adults can take many forms including sexual, physical, or emotional mistreatment. The crime of abuse of an elderly person or disabled adult occurs when a person knowingly or willfully:
- Intentionally inflicted a physical or psychological injury upon an elderly person or disabled adult
- Committed an intentional act that could reasonably be expected to result in physical or psychological injury to an elderly person or disabled adult or
- Actively encouraged another person to commit an act that results or could reasonably be expected to result in physical or psychological injury to an elderly person or disabled adult.
Abuse of vulnerable adult that does not result in great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement is classified as a third-degree felony, which is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Aggravated Assault of the Elderly
Aggravated abuse of an elderly person or disabled adult occurs when someone commits aggravated battery against an elderly person or disabled adult, willfully tortures, maliciously punish, or willfully and unlawfully cages, an elderly person or disabled adult. Knowingly or willfully abuses an elderly person or disabled adult thereby causing great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement is also considered a vulnerable adult abuse offense.
In this context, willfully is defined as intentionally and maliciously means wrongfully and without legal justification. Aggravated abuse of a vulnerable adult is a first-degree felony, which carries a penalty of up to thirty years in prison and a $10,000 fine. West Palm Beach vulnerable adults abuse lawyers have the resources, knowledge, and experience you can rely on.