Good news in the fight to protect our elderly comes as the result of Governor Brown signing SB 543 and AB 140 into law last month. Our very own San Diego County District Attorney, Bonnie Dumanis along with San Diego Senators Joel Anderson and Marty Block, and Carlsbad Senator Mark Wyland had encouraged the governor to sign these bills, in order to modernize laws protecting elders.
SB 543 was written and sponsored by the San Diego District Attorney's office in order to make sure that stealing from an elder constitutes a "qualifying prior offense." This means when sentencing a guilty party for conviction of theft from an elder, it may be considered a prior offense. Currently, three convictions of theft may lead future petty theft charges to be bumped to a felony. This is victory for elders as it helps to reinforce the fact that stealing from elders are viewed on par with other types of theft.
AB 140 actually changes the definition of California's undue influence statute. The previous definition (in place since 1872) did not specifically address the effect of undue influence on the elderly. The new law will better protect elders as it gives the court broader reach in taking into consideration things such as, the vulnerability of the elder victim, the apparent authority of the influencer, the use of manipulation, and more.
Both laws should be considered a step forward in the march to protect some of our nation's most vulnerable population. Hopefully these new laws will serve as further deterrent to those who would wish to take advantage of the elderly population.
Elder abuse in California is both a criminal and civil offense. Criminal elder abuse describes the willful infliction of physical or emotional suffering on an elder. Civil elder abuse includes any physical or financial abuse, neglect or abandonment resulting in physical or mental harm.
If you suspect that a friend, family member, or loved one has been the victim of elder abuse, contact an experienced San Diego, California elder abuse lawyer to help evaluate your case and advise you how to proceed. Christopher Walton has years of experience providing caring, compassionate representation to victims of elder abuse and their families. Call (619) 233-0011 for a confidential consultation.