In Florida, Chapter 825 addresses the criminal offense of Abuse or Exploitation of the Elderly. “Elderly person” is defined by law to mean “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.”
Several prosecutors have shared their opinion, that all the state has to prove is to qualify a person under this statute is that the alleged victim be over the age of 60 and be abused. This of course ignores the fact that today some 60 year olds are in better physical shape than our obese youth. There was very little guidance on what the statute meant. Does it mean 60 or “60 years of age or older who is suffering for the infirmities of aging”?
Today the Second District Court of Appeal handed down a case, Watson v. State, in which they acknowledged the case was decided against a “clean slate” of analysis. The Court held that “to establish that a person qualifies as an ‘elderly person’ under the statute requires proof of three elements: (1) the person is sixty years of age or older; (2) he or she suffers from one or more of the infirmities of aging resulting in some kind of physical, mental, or emotional dysfunction; and (3) the extent of the person’s resultant dysfunction is such that it impairs his or her ability to provide adequately for his or her own care or protection.” Therefore to prove exploitation or abuse of the elderly the alleged victim must not only be 60 years of age but also exhibiting signs of the infirmities of aging.
This should apply to all exploitation of the elderly cases and abuse of the elderly cases in Florida. However, since the Court just made all criminal exploitation of the elderly and abuse of the elderly cases in Florida more difficult for the State to prove, the State will likely continue to fight the issue. There is also available an injunction for protection from the exploitation of a vulnerable adult, so if the State does not act, the family of the victim may still intervene.
If you or someone you know is facing the felony charges of Abuse or Exploitation of the Elderly or is otherwise in need of an lawyer in a criminal case then please click or call today to strategize with a criminal defense lawyer.