Domestic Violence – Elder Abuse

Domestic Violence – Elder Abuse

It is a criminal offense for a caretaker to do any of the following to an elderly or dependent adult: to cause or permit the injury of their person or health; to inflict unjustifiable physical pain or mental suffering; to falsely imprison; to steal or embezzle their property; to commit forgery, or fraud, or commit identity theft with regard to their property or identifying information.1

An elder is any person 65 years or older. A dependent adult is a person who is 18 years or older, and under 65 years who has limitations cause by a physical or mental condition that restricts their ability to perform normal activities, and restricts their ability to protect their rights; or a person who because of age has diminished physical or mental abilities; or a person who is a patient requiring 24 hour supervision in an inpatient facility.2

A person who is responsible for the care, supervision and protection of an elder or dependent adult is considered their “caretaker”.3

Infliction of Unjustifiable Physical Pain or Mental Suffering

To willfully cause or permit a person, known or reasonably known to be an elder or dependent adult, to suffer, or to inflict unjustifiable physical pain or mental suffering, is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 6 months in a county jail, or a fine up to $1000, or both.4

Where the commission of the offense is likely to produce serious injury, or death, then it can be punished as a misdemeanor with a sentence of up to one 1 year in a county jail, a fine up to $6000, or both; or it can be punished as a felony with commitment to state prison for either 2, 3, or 4 years.5

Where the victim actually suffers serious injury under section 12022.7 of the California Penal Code, there is an additional 3 year prison term if the age of victim is under 70;6  or 5 years if the victim is 70 or older;7  where the victim dies, then there is an additional term of 5 years if under 70, or 7 years if 70 or over.8

Infliction of Unjustifiable Physical Pain or Mental Suffering by Caretaker

To willfully cause or permit an elder or dependent adult to be injured, or to inflict mental suffering; or to place the elder or dependent adult in a situation that would endanger their health or cause injury, by a person entrusted with their care or custody is a misdemeanor; or a felony.9  The punishment is the same as that for others who inflict unjustifiable physical pain or mental suffering.10

Theft, Embezzlement, Forgery, Fraud, or Identity Theft

If a caretaker of an elder or dependent adult commits any of the following offenses it is a misdemeanor: theft, embezzlement, forgery, fraud, identity theft or fraud; the sentence is a fine up to $2,500, or commitment to a county jail for up to 1 year, or both.

If the value of money, goods, services, real property, labor, or personal property taken exceeds $950 it is a felony and the sentence is commitment to a county jail for up to 1 year, a fine of up to $10,000, or both; or a commitment to state prison for 2, 3, or 4 years.11

The sentence is identical where a person who is not a caretaker commits any of the listed offenses, and either knows, or should have known, that the victim was an elder or dependent adult.12

False Imprisonment

Anyone who by the use of force, menace, deceit, or fraud, falsely imprisons an elder or dependent adult will upon conviction be sentenced to a prison commitment of 2, 3, or 4 years.13





1 Section 368 of the California Penal Code
2 Sections 368(g), (h) of the California Penal Code
3 Section 368(i) of the California Penal Code; section 15656(d) of the California Welfare Code
4 Sections 368(b)(1), 368(c) of the California Penal Code; sections 15656(a), (b) of the California Welfare Code
5 Sections 368(b)(1) of the California Penal Code
6 Section 368(b)(2)(A) of the California Penal Code
7 Section 368(b)(2)( B) of the California Penal Code
8 Sections 368(b)(3)(A), 368(b)(3)(B) of the California Penal Code
9 Sections 368(b)(1), (c) of the California Penal Code; section 15656(a), (b) of the California Welfare Code
10 Section 368(b), (c) of the California Penal Code
11 Section 1170(h) of the California Penal Code
12 Section 368(d) of the California Penal Code
13 Section 368(f) of the California Penal Code