If you have been arrested for elder abuse in Ventura County, you need to speak with an attorney from Wallin & Klarich right away. Not only do you face jail time and steep fines, you can also be deported out of the United States if you are not a citizen of this country.
Elder abuse is a crime on the rise in Ventura County. In 2011-2012, the Ventura County Human Services Agency responded to 2,892 allegations of adult abuse or neglect. The number of reported adult abuse or neglect cases increased 61.3 percent over the last year.1
The California Legislature believes vulnerable adults are in need of special protection from criminal abuse, as elderly and dependent adults “may be confused, on various medications, mentally or physically impaired, or incompetent.”2 As a result, vulnerable adults may not be able to protect themselves as well as others from harm.
How Does California Law Define Elder Abuse?
According to California Penal Code Section 368, an “elder” adult is anyone 65 years or older. A ‘dependent” adult is anyone 18-64 years old who has a physical or mental disability or is otherwise unable to normally care or protect him or herself. “Abuse” can mean any of the following, but is not limited to:
- Physical injury;
- Sexual abuse;
- Denial of food, water or medical services;
- Misuse of medicines;
- Abandonment or general neglect;
- Emotional abuse; or
- Financial abuse.
The prosecution bears the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that you knowingly, intentionally and/or willfully abused an elderly or dependent adult in order to convict you of elder abuse pursuant to PC 368.
The prosecutor can also charge you with “criminal negligence” if you are a caregiver – including a family member friend, or a professional caretaker – and you willfully allow an elderly or dependent person to be placed in a harmful or dangerous situation where the person is likely to be injured. You can be convicted of criminal negligence if you have a legal duty to act, but fail to do so.
Punishment and Sentencing for a Conviction of Elder Abuse in Ventura County
Elder abuse is what is known as a “wobbler” crime in California – meaning you can be charged with either a misdemeanor or felony depending on the circumstances of the crime and your criminal history, if any.
If you are convicted of a misdemeanor charge of PC 368, sentencing can include up to one year in jail and up to a $6,000 fine.
A felony conviction of PC 368 is punishable by two, three, or four years in jail, a $6,000 fine, or both. Special enhancements to your sentence may be imposed if your crime involves great bodily injury or causes the death of the victim:
- If the victim suffers great bodily injury your sentence can be increased by an additional:
- Three years if the victim is under 70 years old; or
- Five years if the victim is aged 70 years or older.
- If you cause the death of your victim your sentence can be increased by an additional:
- Five years if the victim is under 70 years old; or
- Seven years if your victim is aged 70 years or older.
Elder Abuse Can be Considered a Deportable Offense under Federal Law
If you are not a U.S. citizen, a conviction for elder abuse is a deportable offense pursuant to 8 U.S.C. § 1227. Federal law defines specific conditions under which a non-citizen (“alien”) shall be deported from the United States. You can be deported if your conviction:
- Involves a crime of moral turpitude and is within five years (or 10 years pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 1255(j).) after the date of your admission; or
- Is punishable by a sentence of one year or more; or
- Is a second or subsequent separate crime of moral turpitude; or
- Is an aggravated felony.3
You need to understand that a misdemeanor conviction of elder abuse is punishable by a sentence of one year in jail. It does not matter whether you actually serve one year or not. It is enough that the crime is punishable by one year. Therefore, it may be considered a deportable offense under federal law.
Because federal laws authorizing deportation upon a criminal conviction are quite complex, you must speak with one of our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich who can best explain all of your rights.
Speak to the Criminal Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Today
If you or a family member has been accused of elder abuse in Ventura County, you need to contact our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich today. Hiring an attorney from Wallin & Klarich gives you the best possible chance to resolve your case so that you can avoid having to serve jail time, pay fines and even face deportation if you are a non-citizen.
With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Tustin, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have over 30 years of experience successfully representing our clients facing elder abuse charges. We will fight to protect all of your constitutional rights. We will aggressively defend you during every step of the process. We will employ every strategy available to help you win your case.
Call us today at (888) 280-6839 for a free telephone consultation. We will get through this together.
1. [Ventura County Human Services Agency: “Fast Facts”; http://portal.countyofventura.org/portal/page/portal/VCHSA/FastFacts%20-%20Adult%20Protective%20Services]↩
2. [California Penal Code Section 368(a)]↩
3. [8 U.S.C. § 1227(a)(2)(A)(i)-(iii)]↩