Office Update from State Attorney Larizza Regarding COVID-19

Elder Abuse

UNDERSTANDING ELDER ABUSE, NEGLECT AND FINANCIAL EXPLOITATION

         

In our circuit, according to the latest census statistics, the fastest growing segment of our population is those 85 years old and older. This graying of our nation presents a unique opportunity for us to understand and respond to the needs of our seniors.  This can best be accomplished through information and communication.

 

Senior citizens have unique characteristics that often make them vulnerable to crime.  They are typically creatures of habit with behaviors that can be easily exploited.  Older adults may suffer from isolation and loneliness making them vulnerable to abuse and exploited. Elders may also be reluctant to report abuse and neglect due to embarrassment or fear of losing independence.

 

If you have questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact State Attorney's Office.  

 

Elderly Person:    Means a person 60 years of age or older who is suffering from the infirmities of aging as manifested by advanced age or organic brain damage, or other physical, mental, or emotional dysfunction, to the extent that the ability of the person to provide adequately for the person’s own care or protection is impaired.  

 

Disabled Adult:    Means a person 18 years of age or older who suffers from a condition of physical or mental incapacitation due to developmental disability, organic brain damage, or mental illness, or who has one or more physical or mental limitations that restrict the person’s ability to perform the normal activities of daily living.

 

Abuse of an Elderly Person: Means intentional infliction of physical or psychological injury upon an elderly person or disabled adult.

 

 Neglect of an Elderly Person or Disabled Adult: Means a caregiver’s failure to provide their necessary care, supervision or services, or to make a reasonable effort to protect them from abuse from abuse, neglect or exploitation by another person.  

 

Financial Exploitation of an Elderly Person or Disabled Adult: Means using the disabilities of the Elderly Person, or Disabled Adult as a way of illegally obtaining, or attempting to obtain something of value from the Elderly Person or Disabled Adult.  

 

Abuse & Neglect Indicators: Bruises, welts, lacerations, fractures, burns.  Look for indicators at different stages of healing and in suspicious locations.  Signs of hair pulling, e.g., hemorrhaging below the scalp.  Unexplained venereal disease or other unexplained infections.  Signs of physical confinement, e.g., rope burns.  Malnutrition and/or dehydration administration of medications, e.g., too much or too little, wrong medications.  Decubitus ulcers (bed or pressure sores) injuries to the genitalia or breast indicating possible sexual abuse.  

 

Financial Exploitation Indicators: Unexplained withdrawals of money from bank accounts.  Disparity between assets and life style.  Extraordinary interest by family or others in victim’s assets.  Sudden inability to pay bills, purchase food, or personal care items.  Money or assets taken by deceit, intimidation, or coercion.  Unusually large payments for services.  Loans of large sums of money with no arrangement for repayment.  Lack of interest in discussing any necessary assistance relating to finances.  Anxiety or fear when discussing finances.  

 

Who Should Report These Crimes: There is a civic responsibility in our community for anyone who knows, or has reasonable cause to suspect, that a disabled adult or elderly person has been or is being abused, neglected or exploited to immediately report such knowledge to the central abuse registry on the single state wide telephone number (1-800-962-2873).  

 

Reporting Phone Number: 1-800-96-ABUSE (1-800-962-2873)  

 

Who Will Investigate the Case: The Department of Children and Families (DCF) will respond within 24 hours, conduct an investigation, see to the welfare of the victim and notify the local law enforcement (Police) agency if it appears that a crime may have been committed.  The law enforcement agency will then conduct a criminal investigation and report their findings to the State Attorney’s Office.  

 

State Attorney’s Office: Information filed by Law Enforcement may be used to file charges under Chapter 825 of the Florida Criminal Statutes.  If the perpetrator has not already been arrested, an arrest warrant may be requested, and the alleged perpetrator charged with the crime.  An Assistant State Attorney is then assigned to handle the case throughout the court process.  A Victim Advocate is also assigned to assist and keep the victim and their family apprised during the entire proceedings.