Charges of Elder Abuse in Nevada
Nevada protects their elderly. In the state of Nevada, it is a crime to financially exploit, neglect, abuse, or isolate an older adult. While these actions are illegal if committed to any person, the penalty for performing them against an older person carries a much harsher punishment.
Often, family members and caregivers are falsely accused of harming an older person. This misunderstanding can stem from self-defense incidents, actual accidents, or someone just not understanding your actions. These allegations can devastate your life. If wrongly convicted, you could face harsh penalties and end up with a record that will mar your life and affect your ability to find employment.
If you have been wrongly accused of neglecting an elderly person, either as a family member or an employee of a service, you need an experienced attorney to protect your rights. A criminal defense law firm like the Law Offices of Martin Hart who have an intricate knowledge of Nevada and local law can help protect your future.
2010 Nevada Code
Under the 2010 Nevada Code, Title 15 Crimes and Punishments, an older person is defined as:
NRS 200.5092 states, "An older person means a person who is 60 years of age or older." A vulnerable person would be described as a person 18 years of age or older who suffers from a condition either mentally or physically that prevents them from being able to care for themselves or perform normal activities of daily living.
Improper and/or criminal behaviors against persons 60 years of age or older or those who are classified as vulnerable are classified under Nevada Code as:
Abuse under this code is defined as:
- Depriving an older person of shelter, food, clothing or services needed to maintain their physical and mental health
- Infliction of mental anguish, pain, or injury
Penalties if convicted of abuse with no substantial bodily or mental harm can either be a misdemeanor or category C felony. You could be facing up to 364 days in jail, up to $2,000 in fines and restitution. If convicted of category C felony, you will face up to five years in the Nevada State Prison, up to $10,000 in fines and restitution.
Exploitation is defined as:
- An action against an older person by someone they trust to gain control through deception, intimidating, or applying undue influence to take over their money, property, or other assets
- Converting property, assets, or money of an older person with the intention of permanently depriving them of ownership or benefit of said money, assets, or property
Penalties if convicted of exploitation are determined on the value of assets, property or money involved. If amounts deem the charge a misdemeanor, it will mean a 364-day jail sentence, up to $2,000 in fines and restitution. If convicted as a Category C felony, you face up to five years in prison, up to $10,000 in fines and restitution. If convicted of Category B felony, your prison time would be up to ten years in the Nevada State Prison, up to $10,000 in fines and restitution. The value of assets involved also determines the Category B felony. Depending on the amount involved, prison sentences can increase to twenty years, with fines up to $25,000.
Isolation is defined as:
- Intentionally, maliciously or willfully preventing an older person from having contact with another person either by mail, phone, or in person
- Physically preventing an older person from contact with another when they come to visit
Penalties if convicted of elder isolation can fall under a gross misdemeanor with up to a 364-day jail sentence and up to $2,000 in fines along with restitution. If convicted as a Category C felony, you would be facing up to five years in prison, up to $10,000 in fines and restitution. This charge could also have you convicted with a Category B felony which carries a sentence of up to ten years in prison, up to $5,000 in fines and restitution.
Neglect is defined as:
- Failing to provide food, shelter, or clothing to an older person in your care and not maintaining their physical and mental health
- Failing to provide care for an older person in your custody who is unable to care for themselves
Penalties, if convicted of neglect, include up to 364 days in jail, up to $2,000 in fines and restitution. If convicted as a category C felony, you will face up to five years in the Nevada State Prison, up to $10,000 in fines and restitution.
Scenarios common with allegations of elder abuse are:
- Withholding food from an older person as a form of punishment for not acting properly
- Taking money from an elderly or vulnerable person who does not understand the implications of what they agree to
- Inflicting pain on an older or vulnerable person because they have become too much of a burden
What Happens if Convicted of Elder Abuse
If you have been wrongfully accused of abusing an older person or a vulnerable adult, you could be facing either a conviction of a gross misdemeanor in Nevada or a category C felony.
- Gross Misdemeanor(NR 193.140) is a class of crime in Nevada which is deemed more serious than a misdemeanor, but less than a felony
If charged with a gross misdemeanor, you will either be faced with a trial by jury or a bench trial. Penalties could result in 364 days in jail along with or up to $2,000 in fines. A conviction of a gross misdemeanor will appear on your records if you are a U.S. citizen. After two years, you can request the file be sealed. If you are not a citizen of the United States, you could be deported.
- Category C Felony(NRS 193.130) is the third most serious class of felony crime in the state of Nevada
If convicted of category C felony, you will be facing up to five years in the Nevada State Prison and could also have up to $10,000 in fines imposed. You will need good legal representation on this charge as it might be possible to plea bargain to a lesser offense or have the case dismissed.
Category C Felonies have a five-year waiting period before your record can be sealed if you are a U.S. citizen. If you are an alien, you would be facing deportation.
How to Defend Against Elder Abuse Charges
Often time’s allegations of elder abuse are fabricated. If you have been wrongfully accused, you need experienced representation from a lawyer knowledgeable in Nevada laws. Your attorney can help you prove if the alleged victim is telling the truth or making up the stories. It may be possible to determine the victim has inflicted said injuries themselves.
The elderly are prone to hurting themselves from falls, accidents with appliances or other daily activities. Others often misconstrue these accidents as abuse. If the prosecution cannot prove you were the cause of injuries, and your attorney can show cause of injury was an accident, your case can be dismissed.
You may have also been falsely accused due to acting in self-defense. Nevada law allows people to fight in their defense against such actions as battery domestic violence, home invasion, assault, and battery, or attempted murder. Self-defense is deemed legal when:
- You have a reasonable belief that a person is an immediate threat
- You do not apply any more force than necessary to resist an aggressive threat to you
It would be perfectly legal and reasonable to use proportional force if you have to react to an immediate threat of physical harm. Your attorney can show the courts if you have been accused of merely trying to defend yourself against such an attack. If you've acted in self-defense, your attorney will be able to have the charges dismissed.
A false accusation can also be the result of injuries incurred during an honest accident. Your lawyer will help you obtain the necessary documents and information to prove the accusation is not truthful. If the authorities conducted search and seizure due to the charges, your lawyer could have any evidence deemed incriminating suppressed from the courts. Evidence seized could be misinterpreted and harmful to your case.
Who is Likely to Report Elder Abuse?
Professionals such as physicians, social workers, and other public service employees are legally bound to report any suspected cases of elder abuse. NRS 200.5093 makes these professionals lawfully responsible for contacting authorities at the Aging and Disability Services Division, Nevada Department of Health and Human Services or local law enforcement.
Though these are professional caregivers who are working to protect the rights of the elderly, mistakes can happen. Situations involving you and an older relative or older patient can be misunderstood. If this has happened, you need qualified legal defense against charges as the impact of a conviction could result in a negative mark on your permanent records.
Being the caregiver of an elderly or vulnerable person means you have spent time with this individual and have an emotional tie to their well-being. Having a false accusation of elder abuse placed on your character can be devastating. This false charge can come from jealous family members who feel you are receiving too many gifts or are given too much priority in the family will.
Accusations can result from family members who feel you are taking too much control of elder’s finances and want to stop you from continuing. There are a variety of scenarios where a vengeful person can target a caregiver whom they feel is receiving more than they deserve.
There have been cases filed involving mistaken identity where an older person has made their own financial problems and other members of a family assume blame belongs to their caregiver. These charges can leave huge impacts on your life both financially and mentally. You need an experienced lawyer on your side to ensure your rights are protected.
Laws Protect You from False Accusations
Nevada laws protect the elders from abuse, and they also protect you from false accusations. False claims of elder abuse are on the rise and need to be defended. These false reports are devastating to caregivers, advisors, family members, and friends of the reported victim. Receiving the advice of an experienced criminal defense attorney is your best protection against such claims.
Some of the cases of financial abuse against an elder revolve around consumer scams. If you are a person responsible for the financial health of an older adult, you should educate yourself against credit card scams, funeral and cemetery fraud, home repair fraud, and door-to-door solicitations. Even if you unknowingly subscribe the person whose care is your responsibility, family members may attempt to make you liable for the damages.
Penalties for elder abuse are serious, and you need qualified legal assistance when facing such grave criminal charges. When you accept the responsibility for an older or vulnerable adult whether voluntarily, legally, or under an employment contract, you have the basic duty to ensure their proper care. Intentional or neglectful failure to fulfill your obligations can lead to criminal charges.
Contacting an Elder Abuse Attorney Near Me
The Law Offices of Martin Hart is a full service criminal defense attorney ready to defend and protect your reputation and future if facing false accusations of elder abuse.
Martin Hart is ready to stand by and assist you with a top-tier Las Vegas criminal defense to prevent your conviction of either a misdemeanor or felony charge that can cause you long-lasting and life-changing penalties. His in-depth knowledge of Nevada law and Las Vegas Area court processes will help you through this difficult time. Call our Las Vegas Criminal Lawyer to schedule your free consultation at 702-380-4278.