The Sad Crime: Elder Abuse

| Gazette, Police Blotter | September 26, 2013

Robin Sandoval

By Robin Sandoval
There are many crimes committed all over the Los Angeles area every single day. They range from minor crimes that go unnoticed, like jay walking, to major ones that end up on the news, such as kidnapping or murders. Some crimes, however, don’t receive a lot of media attention. One of those crimes is elder abuse.

Elder abuse is covered under Penal Code 386 PC and, according to the State Bar of California, one out of every seven senior citizens in the U.S. has been the victim of elder abuse at one point or another. For the most part, those who are charged with elder abuse are related to the victims, or are their primary caregivers.

The conditions of crimes related to Penal Code 386 PC can be: physical abuse, financial abuse and/or any other treatment that results in pain and suffering on the part of the victim.

Prior to 1982, there were no laws on the books that protected elderly people in the care of others. It wasn’t recognized until the California State Legislature determined that “dependent adults” required special protection under the law.


In 1983, per a request from the Santa Ana Police Department, Penal Code 386 PC was enacted to give law enforcement a legal basis to charge and prosecute those who were found to be abusing “dependent adults.” In 1986, the California State Legislature included language that extended the reach of Penal Code 386 PC to protect all senior citizens, not just those who were labeled as “dependent adults.”

When a prosecuting attorney charges someone with elder abuse, they must prove:

1) That the individual either willfully, or with criminal negligence, subjected an elderly person to physical and or/mental pain and suffering. The defendant must have done so willingly, or willingly allowed another to do so.

2) That the circumstances under which the conduct occurred were likely to produce great bodily injury or death, and

3) That the accused knew the victim was an elder.

In California, elder abuse can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the circumstances of the crime, as well as the criminal history of the defendant.

Misdemeanor elder abuse can carry a sentence of informal probation, one year maximum in county jail, a fine of $6,000, restitution to the victim and/or counseling.

For felony convictions, the penalties are much harsher. The list includes: formal probation, two to four years in California State Prison and up to $10,000 in fines, as well as restitution and/or counseling.

Robin Sandoval is a California Licensed Bail Bondsman and owner of SCV Bail Bonds. Robin writes blogs and articles to help increase community awareness of the bail industry. If you have questions or want to suggest a topic, email robin@scvbailbonds.com, visit www.scvbailbonds.com or call 661-299-2245.

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