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The attorneys at the Sammis Law Firm in Tampa, FL, represent clients accused of the mistreatment of vulnerable adults involving financial exploitation.
The most common accusations arise during disputes between family members or caregivers over managing an elderly person's income, bank accounts, and other assets. Other types of financial exploitation can involve allegations of theft, fraud, unauthorized real estate transactions, contractors scams, investment scams and consumer fraud.
Florida Statute 825.103, entitled "Exploitation of an elderly person or disabled adult" became effective on October 1, 2014. The new statute in Florida made it easier for prosecutors to convict people who prey on the elderly and enhanced the penalties that could be imposed after a conviction.
Elder abuse is often discovered when:
Allegations of elder abuse for physical, emotional, financial exploitation, are often reported to the Florida Abuse Hotline at 1-800-962-2873 (1-800-96ABUSE) which triggers a criminal investigation.
If you were charged with any crime involving exploiting an elderly or disabled person, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in Tampa, FL, at the Sammis Law Firm.
Our attorneys also represent clients who receive a petition or temporary order for an injunction for protection against exploitation of a vulnerable adult filed under section 825.1035, Florida Statutes (sometimes called the protective order against the exploitation of the elderly).
Our attorneys represent clients throughout Tampa and Plant City in Hillsborough County, St. Petersburg and Clearwater in Pinellas County, New Port Richey and Dade City in Pasco County, Bartow and Lakeland in Polk County, and Brooksville in Hernando County, FL.
The penalties for financial exploiting the elder depend on the amount of money, funds, assets or property involved:
Under § 825.101(12)(c), Fla. Stat., the amounts of value of separate properties involved in exploitation committed pursuant to one scheme or course of conduct may be aggregated in determining the total value of the property involved in the exploitation. The total amount of property in an exploitation scheme can be combined regardless of whether the exploitation involves the same person or several different people.
Under § 825.101(12), Fla. Stat., the term "value" means a value determined according to any of the following:
Under § 825.101(12)(b), Fla. Stat., if the value of the property cannot be ascertained, the jury may find the value to be not less than a certain amount; if no such minimum value can be ascertained, the value is an amount less than $100.
Under Florida law, there are several different ways that exploitation can be charged. Each alternative way of charging the crime requires that the victim is either an elderly person or a disabled adult.
Under § 825.101(43), Fla. Stat., the phrase "disabled adult" is defined as a person 18 years of age or older who suffers from a condition of physical or mental incapacitation due to a 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.
Under § 825.101(4), Fla. Stat., the legal definition of "elderly person" is 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 dysfunctioning, to the extent that the ability of the person to provide adequately for the person's own care or protection is impaired.
Under Florida Statute § 825.103(1)(a), in order for a prosecutor with the State Attorney's Office in Florida to prove the crime of Exploitation of an Elderly Person or Disabled Adult, the State must prove the following elements:
Under § 825.101(1), Fla. Stat., the term "business relationship" is defined to mean a relationship between two or more individuals or entities where there exists an oral or written contract or agreement for goods or services.
Under § 825.101(9), Fla. Stat., the term "position of trust and confidence" with respect to an elderly person or a disabled adult is defined to include the position of a person who:
Under Florida Statute § 825.103(1)(b), in order for a prosecutor with the State Attorney's Office in Florida to prove the crime of Exploitation of an Elderly Person or Disabled Adult, the State must prove the following elements:
Under § 825.101(7), Fla. Stat., the term "lacks capacity to consent" involves a condition that causes an elderly person or disabled adult to lack sufficient understanding or capacity to make or communicate reasonable decisions concerning the elderly person's or disabled adult's person or property. Those conditions can include an impairment by reason of:
Under Florida Statute § 825.103(1)(c), in order for a prosecutor with the State Attorney's Office in Florida to prove the crime of Exploitation of an Elderly Person or Disabled Adult, the State must prove the following elements:
For the purposes of Florida's law against the financial exploitation of an elderly person under § 825.103(1)(c), Fla. Stat., the term "trustee" must be an individual.
The term "unauthorized appropriation" occurs when:
Under Florida Statute § 825.103(1)(d), in order for a prosecutor with the State Attorney's Office in Florida to prove the crime of Exploitation of an Elderly Person or Disabled Adult, the State must prove the following elements:
Under § 655.80, Fla. Stat., the term "Convenience Account" is a deposit account, other than a certificate of deposit, in the name of one individual (principal), in which one or more other individuals have been designated as agents with the right to make deposits to and to withdraw funds from or draw checks on such account.
The designation of agents, the substitution or removal of agents, or any other change in the contractual terms or provisions governing a convenience account may be made only by the principal. All rights, interests, and claims in, to, and in respect of, such deposits and convenience account and the additions thereto shall be those of the principal only.
Under § 825.103(1)(e), Fla. Stat., in order for a prosecutor with the State Attorney's Office in Florida to prove the crime of Exploitation of an Elderly Person or Disabled Adult, the State must prove the following elements:
Under § 825.101(2), Fla. Stat., the term "caregiver" means a person who has been entrusted with or has assumed responsibility for the care or the property of an elderly person or disabled adult. The term "caregiver" includes, but is not limited to:
Under § 825.101(6), Fla. Stat., the term "facility" means any location providing day or residential care or treatment for elderly persons or disabled adults. The term "facility" may include, but is not limited to, any hospital, training center, state institution, nursing home, assisted living facility, adult family-care home, adult day care center, group home, mental health treatment center, or continuing care community.
The Standard Jury Instruction 14.9 provides for a statutory inference that can be read to the jury in a financial exploitation case being prosecuted under § 825.103. That special jury instruction provides:
You may, but are not required to, draw an inference of exploitation of the victim, if you find the State has proved beyond a reasonable doubt that:
The standard jury instructions in 14.9 also include the following instruction:
You may not draw an inference of exploitation of the victim if the transfer involved a valid loan, in writing, with definite repayment dates. However, you may draw an inference of exploitation of the victim, even if the transfer involved a valid loan, in writing, with definite repayment dates, if the repayment of the loan was in default, in whole or in part, for more than 65 days.
If the transfer had no definite repayment dates in writing, you may draw an inference of exploitation of the victim regardless of whether the transfer was denoted by the parties as a gift or a loan.
The statutory inferences for a financial exploitation case do not apply to persons in the business of making loans or to bona fide charitable donations to nonprofit organizations that qualify for tax-exempt status under the Internal Revenue Code as provided by Â§ 825.103(2)(b), Fla. Stat.
The jury instruction for the exploitation of an elderly person or disabled adult is found in Standard Jury Instruction 14.9 which was adopted in 2013 [131 So. 3d 755] and amended in 2015.
Under § 825.101(5), Fla. Stat., the term "endeavor" means to attempt or try. Additionally, the term "obtains or uses" is defined in § 825.101(8) to mean any manner of:
Under § 825.101(10), Fla. Stat., the term "property" means anything of value and includes:
Under § 825.101(11), Fla. Stat., "services" means anything of value resulting from a person's physical or mental labor or skill, or from the use, possession, or presence of property, and includes:
In Franke v. State, 188 So. 3d 886, 888-89 (Fla. 4th DCA 2016), the court noted that "it does not seem that obtaining the future expectancy of property under a will or trust falls under the purview of the statute." In reaching this conclusion, the court looked at the prior reported cases addressing section 825.103 that all concerned a present transfer of property, not a future expectancy in a will or trust including:
Under Florida Statute 775.15(10), the statute of limitations requires that the prosecution is commenced within five (5) years after an offense is committed in violation of:
What is Financial Exploitation of a Vulnerable Adult - Visit the website of the National Adult Protective Services Association (NAPSA), a non-profit 501 (c) (3) organization with members in all fifty states. Use the NAPSA website to find the definition of financial exploitation, resource materials, and a checklist for when to report life-threatening situations involving a senior citizen or adults with disabilities.
Studies on the Exploitation of Elderly People in Florida - Visit the website of the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) to find information on the financial exploitation of the elderly including incidents and characteristics of exploitation. The article also discusses an NIJ-funded study that sought to determine the nature and extent of consumer fraud victimization and to identify risk and protective factors for fraud victimization among elderly residents of Florida. Researchers in the study found that nearly 60 percent of the 2,000 survey participants were targeted by at least one fraud attempt during the prior year.
13th Circuit Elder Justice Center in Hillsborough County, FL - The Thirteenth Circuit Elder Justice Center is a court program that helps people who are sixty (60) years old or older who are involved in the Hillsborough County court system because of civil, guardianship, criminal, or family law matter.
Find a lawyer for crimes involving the exploitation of an elderly person or disabled adult. If you have been accused of taking advantage of a vulnerable adult, contact an attorney in Tampa, FL, at the Sammis Law Firm to discuss the case.
We can help you understand the charges being investigated, the best way to present evidence showing that you are not guilty, and ways to fight any criminal charges. Our attorneys represent clients on a variety of white collar crimes and economic crimes throughout the greater Tampa Bay area.
Contact us for a consultation to discuss the case. Call 813-250-0500 today.
This article was last updated on Wednesday, November 29, 2017.
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Jason D. SammisTampa native with 15 years experience. University of Florida College of Law Graduate...Read more
Leslie M. SammisFocused on DUI Defense for more than 15 years. Former Assistant Public Defender...Read more
Matthew A. MenendezAs a former assistant public defender, Matthew is experienced in trial advocacy and motion...Read more
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