When it comes to domestic violence complaints, people typically think of spousal abuse or child abuse. However, there is another classification of abuse which may bring criminal charges in addition to domestic assault and battery.
Like children, the elderly are often vulnerable and unable to defend themselves against mistreatment by those who are supposed to care for them. Abuse, neglect, and exploitation of the elderly is punished under several Oklahoma laws, and whether you are the adult child accused of assaulting a parent or a caretaker accused of financially exploiting an elderly patient, you face significant legal consequences.
Often, find themselves in the position of caring for their aging parents while simultaneously attempting to raise their own children. The demands on caretakers can be enormous, and without adequate support and resources, it may be challenging to appropriately handle the stresses associated with around-the-clock care.
Furthermore, medical conditions of the elderly, including mental health issues such as dementia and cognitive impairment, may make such individuals belligerent and combative. Caring for a parent or patient who bears no semblance to the person he or she used to be can be emotionally taxing, especially if your attempts at care are met with constant derision and ingratitude.
Regardless of your situation, however, it is not okay to take advantage of the vulnerable. If you are charged with violating Oklahoma elder abuse laws, the state will aggressively pursue criminal conviction. Protect yourself, your rights, and your family by contacting an experienced defense attorney with Law Firm of Oklahoma.
Oklahoma’s domestic violence laws, found in the assault and battery statute in 21 O.S. 644, make it a misdemeanor or felony to assault family members and household members, including parents. While the abuse of an elderly parent may be prosecuted under the state’s domestic abuse laws, Oklahoma has a specific statute regarding the abuse, neglect, or exploitation of a person by his or her caretaker.
In 21 O.S. 843.1, state law says that, “No caretaker or other person shall abuse, commit financial neglect, neglect, commit sexual abuse, or exploit any person entrusted to the care of such caretaker or other person in a nursing facility or other setting, or knowingly cause, secure, or permit any of these acts to be done.” Abusing, neglecting, or exploiting for whom one is responsible for caring is a felony punishable by maximum of 10 years in prison. If the offense involves sexual abuse, the maximum penalty is 15 years in prison. If the victim is a resident of a nursing facility, the crime is one of Oklahoma’s 85 percent crimes, meaning that a person convicted of nursing home abuse or neglect must serve at least 85 percent of the sentence before obtaining the possibility of parole.
Abuse of a vulnerable person by his or her caretaker is not limited to physical or sexual abuse or financial exploitation. Verbal abuse is defined in 21 O.S. 843.2 as “the repeated use of words, sounds, or other forms of communication by a caretaker, including but not limited to, language, gestures, actions or behaviors, that are calculated to humiliate or intimidate or cause fear, embarrassment, shame, or degradation to the person entrusted to the care of the caretaker.” Verbal abuse by a caretaker is a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum of one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
Caring for an elderly or disabled person can be a thankless job. Whether one is a paid caretaker or a relative acting out of familial responsibility, a caretaker may feel that he or she is entitled to more recompense than is actually received.
It is not uncommon to feel this way, but manipulating or exploiting the elderly or disabled in an effort to gain control of assets is a crime.
In 21 O.S. 843.4, exploitation of the elderly or disabled is defined as follows:
Taking a vulnerable adult’s funds through deception, manipulation, and intimidation is a violation of trust and an act of theft or fraud. Like such crimes, the penalty depends upon the value of the assets exploited from the vulnerable person.
If the assets are valued at less than $100,000, the offense is a felony punishable by a maximum of 10 years in prison. If the assets are valued at $100,000 or greater, the felony carries a potential prison term of 15 years. In both cases, the crime carries a maximum fine of $10,000.
Whether you are an adult child accused of abusing an aging parent, or a paid caretaker or nursing home employee charged with abuse or financial exploitation, you face significant prison time for elder abuse. Although you may feel pressured to explain yourself to police or Adult Protective Services agents, you should not speak to anyone about your case or answer any questions without consulting your attorney. Find a defense lawyer by calling (405) 608-4990, or submit the confidential online form to schedule a free case review.