San Fernando Valley Elder Abuse Attorney
Each courthouse has its own policies and in defending these cases I have learned that they must be defended on a case by case basis with an eye towards giving the prosecutors what they want, if they have a solid case against your client.
If, on the other hand, the case against the client is weak and there is no way for them to successfully prove that elder abuse occurred, then there is a different approach that is taken, which involves litigating the cases and making sure the client’s rights, freedom, reputation and criminal record are protected at all costs.
WHAT ARE YOU FACING IF YOU ARE CHARGED WITH ELDER ABUSE?
There are a handful of crimes that judges and prosecutors are particular harsh on in Los Angeles and Elder Abuse is one of them. In the past 25 years I have handled many Elder Abuse cases and it is always a battle to achieve a fair resolution for the client.
Another thing that I have noticed in these cases is that the alleged abuse can take many different forms. Sometimes the alleged abuse is physical, other times mental and there is also abuse of an elderly person that stems from financial issues.
In many of the cases that I have defended in the past, I have noticed that the police and prosecutors do not always have the full extent of the story and there are mitigating factors that can be uncovered and presented to them that can make a huge difference.
Of course, as you might guess, these Elder Abuse cases spin on their own facts and there are varying levels of abuse that will be addressed with varying degrees of punishment by the authorities tasked with investigating and prosecuting these cases.
In my experience, when I defend one of these cases, the prosecuting agency will usually assign a special prosecutor who works for the family violence unit of the District Attorney’s Office. These prosecutors are give specific instructions when it comes to Elder Abuse cases and they must authorize everything they do on the cases through their chain of command.
As you can probably see, without a seasoned criminal defense attorney on your side, the deck can become quickly stacked against you.
LAW ON ELDER ABUSE IN SAN FERNANDO VALLEY
Elder abuse is considered a felony and under California Penal Code Section 368 is defined as physical abuse, financial abuse, or any other treatment that results in physical and/or mental pain or suffering towards an elder or a dependent adult (someone over the age of 65).
This definition is broadly construed by prosecuting agencies and judges alike. The primary policy aim and concern is to protect the elderly and make sure they are not take advantage of because they do not have the faculties to fend for themselves.
To be convicted, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant willfully or negligently subjected an elder to uncalled for physical pain or mental suffering or allowed another person to do so.
And, that the conduct occurred under circumstances likely to produce great bodily injury; that the defendant knew or should have known that the alleged victim was an elder (over 65). Again, the legislature has made the laws related to elder abuse in such a ways as to stand up to attack and protect those older members of society.
The crime is considered a wobbler offense, meaning that it may be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the severity of the abuse and other circumstances such as may be occurring.
Penalties for Elder Abuse PC 368
The decision whether to file a cases as a felony or misdemeanor is in the discretion of the various prosecuting agencies in Los Angeles and the defense will have to argue against and unfavorable decision after the case is filed against the client.
If convicted as a misdemeanor, a defendant faces informal probation, a maximum of one year in jail, fines, restitution to victim ,and counseling. Typically a person is put on three years of probation and there is a protective order put in place by the judge protecting the abused person and have the defendant stay away from them and not do anything that could be construed as further abuse.
If convicted as a felony, a defendant faces formal probation, either prison or jail (depending on how serious the abuse, restitution, fines and a variety of other punishments depending on the specific nature of the abuse and the damage that was inflicted on the victim.
As elder abuse lawyers in San Fernando and Van Nuys, CA, our ultimate goal is to avoid these harsh penalties for our clients. We fight aggressively and do whatever we can to get the best possible results by arguing on your behalf and asserting any and all applicable defenses.
Your best first step is to set up a consultation so you can get clarity in what you are facing and begin the process of designing a plan that will assist in the resolution of your matter. Contact the Hedding Law Firm and set up a free consultation.