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Abuse of Elderly or Disabled Adult under Florida Law

Florida law makes it an enhanced crime to commit any act of abuse against a disabled adult or elderly person. Florida Statute Section 825.102 provides for certain first degree penalties. If the crimes is charged as aggravated abuse of the elderly or disabled person, then the crime is punishable as a first degree felony.

If you have been arrested or charged with the serious criminal offense of abuse of elderly or disabled person in the greater Tampa Bay area, including Plant City or Tampa in Hillsborough County, St. Petersburg or Clearwater in Pinellas County, New Port Richey or Dade City in Pasco County, or Brooksville in Hernando County, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at the Sammis Law Firm to discuss the specific facts of your case.

False Allegations of Abuse

Most of these investigations begin when someone makes a report to the Florida Department of Children and Families regarding any allegation of abuse on a disabled person or an elderly person. Such reports can be made by health care professionals such as doctors or nurses, other family members, neighbors, or even employees in a nursing home.

Once you learn that you are the target of a criminal investigation or DCF investigation, you should not discuss the facts of the case until after you have sought out legal advice from an attorney. Anything that you say can and will be used against you in a court of law if you are charged with any crime.

Especially for individuals who are innocent of any criminal wrongdoing, it is important to obtain legal advice. Many of these cases involve false or exaggerated allegations that are often motivated by some financial incentive or other improper motive.

Florida Statute Section 825.102 - Abuse or Neglect of Disabled or Elderly Person

Under Florida law, the abuse of an disabled adult or elderly person is defined as willfully and knowingly either:

  1. An intentional act that could reasonably be expected to result in psychological injury or physical injury to a disabled adult or elderly person;
  2. the intentional infliction of psychological injury or physical injury upon a disabled adult or elderly person; or
  3. an act that actively encourages any third person to commit an act that could reasonably be expected to result in psychological or physical injury to a disabled adult or elderly person (or an act that does actually result in such injury).

Third Degree Felony for Neglect or Abuse of a Disabled Adult or Elderly Person

Even when the alleged conduct does not cause any great bodily hard, permanent disfigurement or permanent disability, any person found guilty of such a crime of neglect or abuse of a disabled adult or elderly person can be found guilty of a third degree felony which is punishable by five years in Florida State prison.

First Degree Felony for Aggravated Abuse of an Disabled Adult or Elderly Person

When the alleged conduct does result in permanent disability, great bodily harm or permanent disfigurement, then the criminal offense of aggravated abuse of an elderly person or disabled adult can be charged as a first degree felony punishable by 30 years in Florida State Prison.

Types of Aggravated Abuse of the Elderly or Disabled

The law provides for several different types of abuse or aggravated abuse on the elderly or disabled including the following acts:

  • Willfully or knowingly abuses a disabled adult or an elderly person and in so doing causes the disabled adult or elderly person to suffer from one of the following:
    • permanent disfigurement;
    • great bodily harm, or
    • permanent disability.
  • Unlawfully and willfully cages a disabled adult or disabled peron;
  • Willfully tortures a disabled adult or disabled person; or
  • Maliciously punishes a disabled adult or disabled person.

Neglect of a Disabled Adult or Elderly Person under Florida Statute Section 825.102(3)(a)

Florida law defines the neglect of a disabled adult or elderly person to mean one of the following:

  • A caregiver's failure or omission to provide an elderly person or disabled adult with the care, supervision, and services necessary to maintain the elderly person's or disabled adult's physical and mental health, including, but not limited to, food, nutrition, clothing, shelter, supervision, medicine, and medical services that a prudent person would consider essential for the well-being of the elderly person or disabled adult; or
  • A caregiver's failure to make a reasonable effort to protect an elderly person or disabled adult from abuse, neglect, or exploitation by another person.

Jury Instructions in Abuse Cases

In many of these cases, the jury will be instructed that the neglect of a disabled person or elderly person can be be based on any of the following:

  • a single incident that could reasonably be expected to result in (or does actually result in) psychological injury or serious physical injury or a substantial risk of death;
  • repeated conduct that could reasonably be expected to result in (or does actually result in) psychological injury or serious physical injury, or a substantial risk of death; or
  • an omission (the failure to take some action) that could reasonably be expected to result in (or does actually result in) psychological injury or serious physical injury or a substantial risk of death.

Neglect of a Disabled or Elderly Person - Second Degree Felony

Under Florid law, the crime is charged as a second degree felony, punishable by up to fifteen (15) years in Florida State Prison if the acts willfully or by culpable negligence and neglects a disabled adult or elderly person and in so doing causes permanent disfigurement, permanent disability, or great bodily harm to the elderly person or disabled adult.

Neglect of a Disabled or Elderly Person - Third Degree Felony

Under Florida law, the crime is charged as a third degree felony, punishable by up to five (5) years in Florida State Prison if the person acts with either culpable negligence or willfully to neglect a disabled adult or elderly person without causing permanent disfigurement, permanent disability or great bodily harm to the elderly person or disabled adult.

Contacting a Tampa Attorney for Abuse of the Elderly or Disabled

If you are being investigated for, charged with, or arrested for the very serious criminal offense of an elderly person or a disabled person then contact an attorney in Tampa, Hillsborough County, Florida to discuss your case. These charges are often classified as violent crimes that come with serious collateral consequences.

Our criminal defense attorneys represent men and women charged with false or exaggerated charges of abuse of the elderly or disabled through the greater Tampa Bay area, including St. Petersburg or Clearwater in Pinellas County, Bartow or Lakeland in Polk County, Plant City or Tampa in Hillsborough County or New Port Richey or Dade City in Pasco County, Florida.