The American population is again at an astounding rate. The average life expectancy is almost double what is was just a century ago. Moreover, older individuals are expected to outnumber their counter counterparts (under 21) for the first time in history by the year 2050. This increase in the elderly population has caused legislators to focus on crimes against the elderly and the punishments for those crimes. For example, you can be charged with battery on an elderly person in California as a separate and distinct crime.
California Penal Code 368-368.5 is where crimes against the elderly can be found. Section 368-368.5 covers all common forms of elder abuse, potentially making the following crimes when committed on an elderly individual:
- Physical abuse, including battery
- Emotional abuse, including thing such as ridiculing, taunting, or isolating the victim
- Financial abuse
- Neglect or endangerment
The term “battery”, under California law, is defined as the actual use of force or violence on someone. Battery on the elderly, therefore, requires a showing that physical force or violence was used on an elderly victim. If the defendant caused “great bodily injury” as a result of the battery, the law allows for increased penalties, including an additional term of imprisonment as follows:
- Three years if the victim is under 70 years of age.
- Five years if the victim is 70 years of age or older.
If a defendant commits one of the offenses listed under California Penal Code 368(b)(1) and that conduct proximately causes the death of the victim, the defendant shall receive an additional term of imprisonment as follows:
- Five years if the victim is under 70 years of age.
- Seven years if the victim is 70 years of age or older.
The State of California takes allegations of elder abuse seriously and will typically aggressively prosecute suspected abuse. All too often, the alleged abuser is a caregiver to the victim, sometimes even a family member. Because of this, cases of alleged elder abuse are frequently emotionally charged with much at stake. If you have been accused of battery on an elderly victim it is crucial that you consult with an experienced California criminal defense attorney immediately to ensure that your rights are protected throughout the prosecution of the case and to discuss potential defenses to the allegations.