Orange County Elder Abuse Defense Attorney
Accused of Penal Code 368?
Elder abuse is taken seriously by police and the district attorney; those agencies have their own division to investigate, arrest, and convict those accused. If you have been arrested for elder abuse, you need to contact the Orange County domestic abuse lawyers at Law Office of Michael L. Guisti at (714) 530-9690 right now. We have successful track record of handling elder abuse cases throughout Orange County.
Our Orange County elder abuse attorneys understand the emotional toll that taking care of an elderly person has, which sometimes can lead to an emotional breakdown or legitimate accident. The problem is police, doctors, and social workers don't always know the signs of an actual accident and report the suspected elder abuse; sometimes they report it simply to avail themselves against any possible liability.
What Is The Crime of Elder Abuse?
Under Penal Code (PC) 368, elder abuse, sometimes known as senior abuse, is not only the physical abuse of elders, but includes financial abuse, neglect, endangerment, and emotional abuse. In order to prove that you committed elder abuse, prosecutors must show that you willfully or negligently put an elder through unjustifiable physical pain or mental suffering or you allowed another person to do so; your conduct occurred under circumstances that were likely to produce great bodily injury or death; and you reasonably should have known that the alleged victim was an elder.
The Two Crucial Elements a Prosecutor Must Prove Are:
- You were in charge. It's important to understand that you can only be charged with elder abuse by criminal negligence only if you have a legal duty to act. If you were in charge of taking care of an elderly person and neglect to do so, you could be arrested; however, if the elderly person was not in your care—even though you see signs of abuse—you cannot be arrested for this crime.
- The case involved great bodily harm. This refers to injuries that are significant and/or substantial rather than superficial injuries. However, in elder abuse cases, great bodily harm does not have to occur for you to be charged with this crime—only that the situation could have allowed the elderly person to suffer great bodily harm. An experienced OC elder abuse lawyer can help, because whether or not a situation could have resulted in an elderly person having great bodily harm can be debatable.
Potential Defense Strategies for OC Elder Abuse Accusations
As elders age, they sometimes display signs and symptoms of elder abuse. As previously mentioned, doctors, police, social workers, and the like are required to report suspected elder abuse; however, if they are wrong, they are not held criminally liable, which means there is no pressing reason for them to investigate the alleged abuse themselves, only simply protect their jobs and reputation.
If You're Facing Elder Abuse Charges There Are Several Defense Options for You:
- Falsely Accused - We have seen several cases where the suspect is falsely accused. There have been situations where the elderly person just does not like the caregiver and starts making up wild stories that leads to an arrest. Other cases have shown the caregiver and elderly patient have developed a very close relationship, which makes other family members jealous, causing them to call authorities making up false accusations against the caregiver.
- It Was an Accident - Taking care of our elderly is a delicate job and sometimes even the best trained caregivers cannot avoid an accident. While it is unfortunate that the elderly patient has to suffer, as long as the accident did not rise to the level of criminal negligence, you cannot be guilty.
- Lack of Evidence - If you are arrested for elder abuse and it's "their word against your word" with no evidence to back up this accusation, then you cannot be guilty of this crime. Again, doctors, police, and like must report signs of elder abuse, but perhaps the evidence will show the alleged abuse is really something that happens with old age. Also, we can show you are not guilty of elder abuse and in fact have routinely cared for your patient with receipts for drugs, food bills, and even records from regular doctor visits. This can prove you have taken good care of the elderly patient.
Additional Crimes Related to Domestic Violence
In addition to facing charges under PC 368, depending on the details in your case, you could face additional charges such as PC 242 battery and even PC 187 murder. If the alleged elder abuse was somebody related to you, it is possible to face domestic violence charges. This is why you must contact a domestic abuse lawyer right now so we can work to reduce charges.
"I was awoken one morning with cops outside my door to arrest me for elder abuse. My father got me in touch with Orange County elder abuse attorney Michael L. Guisti, who said it was just her word against mine and there was no evidence. Before I knew it Mr. Guisti called me and said the case had been dismissed. Mr. Guisti is awesome!"
If Convicted of Elder Abuse...
Elder abuse under PC 368 is a "wobbler," which means it can be charged either as a misdemeanor or felony. Whether it's charged as a misdemeanor or felony depends on the facts in the case and your criminal history. It's best to set up an appointment with one of our experienced defense attorneys so we can go over your case and work with the Orange County District Attorney to possibly reduce charges.
Misdemeanor vs. Felony Elder Abuse
If convicted of misdemeanor elder abuse, you face up to 1 year in Orange County jail and a fine up to $6,000 or $10,000; if this is a subsequent offense, you could also face restitution to the elderly victim and informal probation. I f convicted of felony elder abuse, you face between 2 to 4 years in a state prison and a $10,000 fine; if the victim suffered great bodily injury or death, you could face an additional and consecutive 3 to 7 year sentence and a potential strike on your record per California's Three Strikes Law.
Call OC Elder Abuse Defense Attorney Michael L. Guisti Now!
As you can see, elder abuse is taken very seriously—even a genuine mistake or misunderstanding can land you in very serious trouble, which is why you need to contact our elder abuse defense attorneys. Depending on the details in your case, it is possible you could even face battery, fraud, theft, domestic violence, and/or even murder charges. Call Law Office of Michael L. Guisti now so a skilled Irvine criminal lawyer can work to reduce charges against you and keep you out of jail.
Whether you're facing a felony or a misdemeanor, don't risk a conviction. Act quickly to redeem your reputation and protect your record by consulting with our Orange County criminal defense lawyer. Call today to schedule your free consultation.