When you place your elderly loved one into long-term residential care, or even employ in-home care, you’re trusting that their caregiver has their best interests at heart. You’re expecting that the person giving such care has the training and experience to make sure your loved one’s needs are met. Sadly, this isn’t always the case, and more and more caregivers are abusing their patients.
Elder abuse is commonly defined as physical, financial, emotional, or sexual abuse or neglect of a person age 65 or older. The Department of Justice estimates that 1 in every 10 seniors is abused each year, but only 1 out of every 23 cases of abuse is formally reported to the authorities. This could be a combination of the deterioration in the elderly’s cognitive abilities and the lack of recognition for elder abuse signs.
But once authorities get the alert of the abuse, law enforcement usually takes these accusations very seriously; state and federal laws impose some severe penalties for elder abuse. The question that arises is to what degree is such abuse a criminal act, and what recourse you have to seek justice for your parent or elder loved one.
What are the Differences between Felony and Misdemeanor
There are various categories of crime, which vary according to the gravity of the act. Each type carries different punishment and penalty levels, ranging from simple fines, jail time, or even long-term imprisonment. The two main categories of crime are misdemeanors and felonies, with different “degrees” of crime.
Overall, misdemeanors are minor crimes, though still considered serious. Most carry sentences in county jail as opposed to federal prison, as well as fines. Felonies, contrariwise, are the most serious crimes and have longer sentences in state prison.
Examples of misdemeanors include first-offense domestic assault, minor assault and, manufacturing certain controlled substances. Felonies include first- and second-degree murder, manufacture of schedule I or II controlled substances, and malicious assault.
Is Elder Abuse a Felony?
It’s a complicated question because there’s no blanket answer. For any given case of elder abuse, the District Attorney can file charges under misdemeanor or felony cases, depending on the individual circumstance.
To meet the criteria of a felony, the abuser must have infringed a clear legal duty and exhibited conduct that, in all likelihood, would cause serious physical harm or even death. Misdemeanor charges can result from less severe situations, where the elder’s life or health was threatened, but to a lesser degree. In conclusion, the DA will make the decision based on the individual circumstances of the case.
If you suspect that you or a loved one is a victim of elder abuse, and your suspicions are met with clear evidence of harm, we invite you to contact us at 888-288-0091 or through our website. You need all the help you can to get financial compensation and make the guilty party legally responsible for their crimes.