EXPLOITATION OF THE ELDERLY
Given the high number of retirees and senior citizens that reside in Florida, the felony offense of Exploitation of Elderly Persons or Disabled Adults is often vigorously prosecuted by the State Attorney’s Office. The seriousness of an Exploitation of the Elderly charge depends on the amount of money in controversy.
What is Exploitation of the Elderly?
The elements of the offense are found in Florida Statute §825.103, which outlines a number of different ways that the prosecution can charge a person with the felony offense of Exploitation of the Elderly. These include:
- A person in a position of trust, such as a caretaker, knowingly uses or endeavors to use, the elderly or disabled person’s funds, assets or property with the intent to temporarily or permanently deprive the elderly or disables person of the use, benefit or possession of the funds, assets or property and the person knows that the elderly or disabled person lacks the ability to consent.
- A person in a business relationship with an elderly or disabled person who knowingly uses or endeavors to use, the elderly or disabled person’s funds, assets or property with the intent to temporarily or permanently deprive the elderly or disables person of the use, benefit or possession of the funds, assets or property and the person knows that the elderly or disabled person lacks the ability to consent.
- A person with a fiduciary duty to the elderly person, such as a trustee or power of attorney, who engages in the unauthorized appropriation, sale or transfer of property who engages in fraud, abuse of power, or embezzlement.
What are the Penalties for Exploitation of the Elderly?
In Florida, the penalties associated with an Exploitation of the Elderly conviction increase as the amount of money in controversy increases. In that regard:
- If the funds at issue in the prosecution are $10,000.00 or less, the offense is classified as a third-degree felony and punishable by up to five years in State Prison;
- If the funds at issue in the prosecution are more than $10,000, but less than $50,000.00, the offense is classified as a second-degree felony and is punishable by up to fifteen years in State Prison; and
- If the funds at issue exceed $50,000.00, the offense is classified as a first-degree felony and is punishable by up to thirty years in State Prison.
What are Defenses to Exploitation of the Elderly?
There are two primary defenses to the charge of Exploitation of the Elderly. The first is that the funds were not misappropriated by the Defendant. In other words, the lawyer would argue that if the funds were misappropriated, someone else did it. The second, and more common defense, to the charge of Exploitation of the Elderly is the capacity to consent. In this scenario, your top-rated St. Petersburg criminal defense lawyer would argue that the alleged victim consented to the appropriation and was competent to do so.
- Sometimes, the facts of the case involve gifts that are made out of gratitude to the caregiver.
- In other cases, the elderly person had the caregiver make bank withdrawals with the understanding that the cash would be spent on their groceries, medicine, and other daily costs of living.
- We also find situations where the caregiver had spent money out of their own pocket and then received authorization to access the elderly individual’s funds for the purpose of reimbursement.
Many times, the elderly person had no objection to the access of their funds in this manner and had expressly authorized the withdrawals. However, an absent family member later complains to the police because they are surprised to find that their expected inheritance has been diminished by the costs of in-home care by a third party.
How Can a Criminal Defense Lawyer Help Me?
Our criminal defense team will evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your case to develop the best strategy for the unique facts and circumstances involved in your case. During your consultation, we will answer the following questions:
- Can your lawyer intervene with the prosecutor in an effort to avoid the filing of formal charges?
- Will the payment of restitution mitigate or otherwise avoid criminal penalties?
- Is it possible that you can avoid a formal conviction?
- Are you eligible for any sort of diversion program?
- Will you be eligible to have this offense sealed or expunged from your record?
- Are there any alternatives to incarceration?
Call our office for a Free Consultation
If you or a loved one has been charged with Exploitation of the Elderly, the stakes are high and time is of the essence. Often, securing the best possible outcome requires quick action in addressing the criminal case.
Call our office today at (727) 578-0303 to schedule a free, confidential, in-office consultation.