California has enacted more and more elder abuse laws to protect residents 65 years and older. One emerging area of California's elder abuse laws protects against financial abuse. Elder financial abuse can be criminal or civil.
Criminal elder financial abuse occurs where someone violates any commits theft, embezzlement, forgery, or fraud, or who violates Section 530.5 of the Penal Code– proscribing identity theft, with respect to the property or personal identifying information of an elder and who knows or reasonably should know that the victim is an elder, These offenses are punishable by imprisonment for up to four years, when the money, labor, goods, services, or real or personal property taken or obtained is of a value exceeding nine hundred fifty dollars ($950); and by a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year, or by both that fine and imprisonment, when money, labor, goods, services, or real or personal property taken or obtained is of a value not exceeding nine hundred fifty dollars ($950).
Civil elder financial abuse occurs when a person or entity does any of the following: Takes, secretes, appropriates, obtains, or retains real or personal property of an elder for a wrongful use or with intent to defraud, or both; Assists in taking, secreting, appropriating, obtaining, or retaining real or personal property of an elder for a wrongful use or with intent to defraud, or both; and/or Takes, secretes, appropriates, obtains, or retains, or assists in taking, secreting, appropriating, obtaining, or retaining, real or personal property of an by undue influence.
In cases of suspected elder financial abuse, there are some classes of people who are obligated to report it. These mandated reporters include, administrators, supervisors, and any licensed staff of a public or private facility that provides care or services for elder; any elder or dependent adult care custodian, health practitioner, clergy membesr, employees of a county adult protective services agency or a local law enforcement agency; any person who has assumed full or intermittent responsibility for the care or custody of an elder, whether or not he or she receives compensation.
Mandated reporters are absolutely required to report actual or suspected physical abuse, abandonment, isolation, financial abuse, or neglect which is observed, evident, or described. They must make a report immediately or as soon as possible by telephone, followed by a written report within two (2) working days.
The failure to report, impeding or inhibiting a report of, physical abuse, abandonment, abduction, isolation, financial abuse, or neglect of an elder is a misdemeanor, punishable by six months in the county jail and a fine of one thousand dollars ($1,000).
Any mandated reporter who willfully fails to report physical abuse, abandonment, abduction, isolation, financial abuse, or neglect of an elder where that abuse results in death or great bodily injury, is punished by not more than one year in a county jail and a fine of five thousand dollars ($5,000).
Reports of elder financial abuse should be made to the county office of the District Attorney. A directory is available from the California District Attorney's Association of current addresses and phone numbers by calling 916-443-2017 or on the web at www.cdaa.org.
Reports may also be made to Adult Protective Services (APS) in the county where the financial abuse occured or the elder resides by referring to the California Department of Social Services Web site at http://www.cdss.ca.gov/agedblinddisabled/PG1298.htm.