What to Do If You’ve Been Falsely Accused of Elder Abuse
- October 11, 2017
- The Law Office of Greg Tsioros
- Comments Off on What to Do If You’ve Been Falsely Accused of Elder Abuse
Other than children, elderly individuals are often the most vulnerable in our society. Ninety percent of the time, family members—not hired professionals—are reported for elder abuse.
The most common types of elder abuse include: 1) physical abuse, 2) undue influence, 3) verbal-emotional abuse, 3) psychological-nonverbal abuse, 4) neglect, 5) fraud, 6) scams, 7) fiduciary abuse, 8) theft and conversion.
Being falsely accused of elder abuse is a shocking experience. If you or someone you love has been charged with elder abuse in Texas, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
Types of Elder Abuse
There are many different types of elder abuse. Among the most common types include:
- Physical abuse involves the (non-accidental) use of force that results in an impairment, physical pain, or bodily injury to an elder. Physical abuse includes confinement, hitting/shoving, shaking, inappropriate drugs, and restraints used on a senior citizen. A caretaker entrusted with providing physical care to an elder may face a charge of physical abuse if he or she is injured. The caretaker may face enhanced criminal charges when an alleged crime involves an elder. If convicted, the penalties may be severe. Because an older person is more susceptible to physical injury, pain, or impairment, it’s possible that the accused did nothing wrong.
- Undue influence (financial abuse) is often a primary element in a financial abuse case involving an elder. The prosecutor must prove that the accused coerced, tricked, or manipulated the older person, resulting in his or her loss of money or property to the perpetrator. This element may also be related to fiduciary or power of attorney abuse. For instance, the trustee of a senior individual’s estate is sued for allegedly committing financial misdeeds. He or she is accused of embezzling from the elder’s trust. In this example, the defendant may face civil or criminal charges if the accuser takes the case to the state attorney in Texas.
- Verbal-emotional abuse involves gaining control of the elder through intimidation, ridicule, or humiliation of the elder. This is another example of “taking advantage of the older person’s weaker mental state to gain control of him or her. Consistently blaming the elder, or using him or her as a scapegoat, may be used by a prosecutor to prove that verbal-emotional abuse has occurred.
- Nonverbal-psychological abuse may include menacing or terrorizing, isolating, or ignoring him or her.
- Neglect involves the failure of a caretaker to fulfill his or her obligation to an elder. Neglect is cited is more than 50 percent of elder abuse cases in Texas. The prosecutor may allege passive (unintentional) or active neglect.
- Fraud involves misuse of a senior’s financial accounts, such as bank or credit card accounts. The defendant may be accused of stealing the elder’s household goods, cash, or income checks, forging his or her signature, or engaging in identity theft.
- Scams, such as phony charities, “prizes,” or investment fraud, that prompt the elder to lose money or property.
- Fiduciary abuse (power of attorney, breach of trust) occurs when a person responsible for management of the elder’s assets uses his or her fiduciary power to access money or property in an illegal or unethical manner. Fiduciary abuse may be committed by a family member, financial adviser, or power of attorney.
- Theft by conversion involves another person’s lawful possession of the elder’s funds or property but converts this property into money for his or her personal use, without the elder’s permission.
If you are falsely accused of abusing an elder, do your best to stay calm. Sometimes, your attempts to assistant a senior family member, friend, or client can go awry. Your efforts to help may be misunderstood. Realize that many good people face charges of elder abuse.
That said, don’t assume that the truth is enough to defend yourself against a malicious charge of elder abuse. You need a strong legal defense.
Never speak inappropriately about the accuser to others. Don’t say that he or she is crazy or demented. Reserve any comments about your case for a conversation with your defense lawyer.
How to Clear Your Name When Charged with Elder Abuse
If you have been charged with elder abuse, you want to clear your name. If you’re facing a criminal elder abuse charge, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney:
- For a case involving finances, you need a criminal defense attorney with a network of experts, such as forensic accountants.
- For an elder abuse case alleging injury, you need a detail-oriented defense attorney who will thoroughly review medical records.
- Authorities might have failed to properly gather evidence—a knowledgeable defense attorney will argue that the evidence should be deemed inadmissible.
If you’re not guilty, an experienced defense attorney will do everything possible to exonerate you or have the charges dropped.
When a prosecutor recognizes that the facts of the case aren’t strong enough to obtain a conviction, he or she may agree not to pursue additional actions against you.
Look for a criminal defense attorney with experience in Texas elder law. He will do everything possible to defend your legal rights and help you survive the experience with your reputation intact.
If your accuser has previously made false accusations or has a history of mental illness, the prosecutor may wish to negotiate a plea.
How to Protect Yourself from Elder Abuse in Texas
If you’re a caregiver of a senior individual, it’s very important to understand your legal obligations to him or her and know the Texas laws surround it:
- Speak with an attorney if you provide physical oversight or caretaking of an elder. Discuss your legal responsibilities to him or her. Even if the idea of ever being charged with elder abuse seems unlikely, ask questions about how to protect yourself from elder abuse.
- Consult with an attorney if your elder names you trustee of an estate or provides you with fiduciary responsibility.
Why Speaking to an Elder Abuse Attorney Can Help
False charges of elder abuse are rising throughout the United States. A caregiver, financial adviser, family member, friend, conservator, or trustee can be accused of elder abuse. It’s important to mount a vigorous defense against any elder abuse charge. You can protect yourself if an elder, perceived as a vulnerable individual, has accused you of any type of elder abuse.
Taking a legally proactive stance can help you prevent more heartache in the future. The Law Office of Greg Tsioros will take action to protect you against false charges of elder abuse—whether you’re a friend, family member, fiduciary, trustee, or adviser. Contact us to schedule an initial case evaluation at 832-752-5972.