2014 Brings Two New Laws Designed to Protect Our Elders

You may recall that back in November of 2013, Governor Brown signed two new bills pertaining to elder abuse. I’m happy to report that effective January 1, 2014, those bills have become laws.

The first, SB 543 which was written and sponsored by the San Diego District Attorney’s office and affirms that stealing from an elder constitutes a “qualifying prior offense.” This means that when sentencing a guilty party for conviction of theft, theft from an elder may be considered a prior offense. Currently, under California law, three convictions of theft may lead future petty theft charges to be bumped up to felony status. This law effectively ensures that stealing from elders is viewed in the eyes of the law, with the same degree of severity as other types of theft.

The second new law that has now gone into effect (known as AB 140) makes a marked change to the definition of California’s undue influence statute. The previous definition (which had been in place since 1872) did not specifically address the effect of undue influence on the elderly. The new law provides greater protection for elders who are exploited by “undue influence.” The new definition defines undue influence as “excessive persuasion that causes an elder to act, or refrain from acting, which results in inequity.”

This revision in definition, should serve to affirm that elders are better protected, as the court now has a 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 can certainly be considered a victory for our elders, and should serve as a warning to those wishing to harm, manipulate, or otherwise take advantage of citizens over 65. With these new laws, California has shown that it has recognizes serious nature of harm brought about by elder abuse, and as such, perpetrators will be penalized.

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 (866) 338-7079 for a confidential consultation.