A Las Vegas Defense Lawyer Explains Nevada Crimes Against the Elderly
Nevada Senior Abuse and Neglect Crimes
Nevada law criminalizes the abuse, neglect, or exploitation of vulnerable seniors. Private caregivers, home healthcare workers, hospital employees, and nursing home staff members could all be at risk of being accused of violating these laws, especially as many seniors become disoriented due to medical conditions like dementia, which could result in false claims.
Penalties for elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation are serious and defendants accused of breaking the laws on elder abuse need to ensure they get qualified legal assistance in fighting the grave criminal charges they are facing.
LV Criminal Defense is a Las Vegas criminal defense firm with extensive experience representing clients in cases where accusations of abuse against the elderly have been made. Give us a call to schedule a consultation and learn more about how our criminal defense attorneys can help you.
What is Criminal Elder Abuse in Nevada?
Nevada Revised Statute Section 200.5099 defines certain prohibited behaviors against older persons or vulnerable persons. For purposes of the law, an older person is defined as someone aged 60 or older. A defendant can face criminal penalties under this Code section and under other Nevada laws for:
- Abuse: This includes any willful and unjustified infliction of physical or emotional harm. Deprivation of necessities of life (food, shelter, water, and clothing); intentional infliction of mental anguish; and the infliction of physical pain all constitute prohibited abuse.
- Neglect: This includes permitting or allowing the older person “to be placed in a situation where the older person may suffer physical pain or mental suffering.”
- Isolation: Depriving an older or vulnerable person from contact with others is illegal isolation.
- Exploitation: This includes breaching a fiduciary obligation, taking advantage of a position of trust to deprive a senior of money or property, and/or improperly enriching yourself at the expense of the senior.
A defendant may be charged with a variety of different offenses including battery domestic violence, fraud crimes, and crimes against the person when allegations of elder abuse are made. As soon as you take any responsibility for an older vulnerable person, whether you have taken on the duty legally, voluntarily, or in response to a contract, you have a basic duty to ensure the senior is properly cared for. Any intentional or neglectful failure to fulfill this obligation can lead to criminal charges.
What are the Penalties for Elder Abuse and Neglect in Las Vegas, Nevada?
Penalties for elder abuse and neglect will vary depending upon the specific offense(s) you have been charged with, as well as whether you have any prior history of conviction for similar crimes.
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Under Nevada Revised Statute Section 200.5099, a charge of first offense abuse is a gross misdemeanor charge, while a repeat offense can rise to the level of a Category B felony. A Category B felony carries a minimum prison term of two years and a maximum prison term of six years (unless the specific abusive act prescribes a more serious penalty).
A first offense of neglect, or putting the senior into a position where he is vulnerable to physical or mental suffering, is a gross misdemeanor as is a first offense of isolating an older person.
When the charges relate to exploitation of a senior, the value of the funds taken from the senior are going to determine the charges and penalties. If less than $250 is improperly obtained or the senior is deprived of less than $250 in money or assets, the crime is a misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of one year in jail and a $2,000 fine. Penalties go up from there, and by the time at least $5,000 in assets has been taken from the senior, the minimum prison term is two years and the maximum term of imprisonment is 20 years upon conviction.
What Defenses are Available to a Nevada Elder Abuse Charge?
There are a variety of possible defenses that can be raised if you are facing misdemeanor or felony charges for elder abuse or neglect in Nevada.
One option when charged with crimes against the elderly is to argue that false accusations were made against you. Seniors can often become confused or disoriented and may not even intentionally mean to make a false claim against you. A case of mistaken identity may occur or the senior may be remembering things that never happened or that happened a very long time ago. This is an especially big problem with patients who are experiencing symptoms of dementia.
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Self defense is another possible argument that can justify the actions you are accused of taking. Scientific America wrote of an “epidemic against healthcare workers,” discussing how common and dangerous assaults are against nurses and other caregivers. If you were being threatened with harm by a senior, you have the right to defend yourself- even if this means getting physical.
Finally, you can argue that the injuries the prosecutor was pointing to as evidence of abuse or neglect actually occurred by accident. Falls are a leading cause of harm for vulnerable older individuals, but seniors can get hurt for many reasons. Conditions like osteoporosis can also make a senior vulnerable to very serious injuries like broken bones even for a very minor accident. You can make a credible argument in many cases that there is no proof any injuries were intentionally inflicted or were the result of neglect.
Get Help from a Nevada Elder Abuse Criminal Defense Lawyer
A Nevada elder abuse criminal defense lawyer can provide you with invaluable assistance if you are facing serious accusations of abusing a vulnerable senior citizen. Call Nick Wooldridge today to schedule a consultation and learn more about how we can assist with your criminal defense case.