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I Am or Know a Victim of Elder Abuse – What Should I Do?

Elder abuse, particularly financial elder abuse, seems to be an epidemic of sorts nowadays.  Our office receives at least one phone call per week on this subject, either from someone suspected of elder abuse or from a victim or friend of a victim of elder abuse.  The caller always wants to know what his or her rights are and what to do.
The Gist of This Article:  A victim or suspected victim of elder abuse in Los Angeles County should call the Elder Abuse Section of the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office at (213) 580-3287.  They are extremely helpful.  This should be the first step always, even if one eventually seeks to pursue a civil action.
We think it is worthwhile at this point to appreciate that elder abuse is broadly defined to describe any type of physical abuse, criminal neglect or, most commonly, financial abuse to a person 65 years old or older.
Financial abuse can be mismanagement of funds, fraud of any type or even outright theft.  Financial abuse is often accompanied by conduct without the consent of the elderly or dependent person, or conduct that takes advantage of a person with dementia or severe illness that preys upon the compromised mental acuity of the older person. 

Long Beach CourthouseLong Beach Courthouse

Sometimes, the defendant mistakenly believes that he or she is entitled to the money because there is a will or trust naming the person as a beneficiary, so the taking is just an advance of the proceeds (without the consent of the executor or the estate).

This article will focus on what a victim or friend of a victim should do when elder abuse is suspected.  We always recommend that no matter what, the victim should contact local law enforcement and /or call the Los Angeles County Elder Abuse Hotline at 1-877-4-R-Seniors (1-877-477-3646), if the events took place or the victim resides in Los Angeles County.

There is a second phone number for the Elder Abuse Section of the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office.  It is (213) 580-3287.  Its address is 201 North Figueroa Street, Suite 1200, Los Angeles, CA  90012.  It is probably better to call the office before visiting.  An appointment can be then reserved if necessary.

A civil action for fraud, embezzlement, negligence and / or other causes of action can certainly follow, but the more important thing is to try to provide an immediate stop to the abuse and secure quick assistance.

Calling the Elder Abuse Hotline will put the caller in contact with a representative of the Elder Abuse Advocacy and Outreach Program.  It is a program within the District Attorney’s Victim-Witness Assistance Program and staffed by specially trained victim advocates.  It is designed to assist elder and dependent-adult victims of physical abuse or violent threats, criminal neglect and financial abuse.  The advocates work with Los Angeles County Adult Protective Services, social workers, medical personnel, police and prosecutors in a variety of ways.

Those ways include, but are not limited to:

1.    Explaining and enforcing victim’s rights, which can include those rights available under Marsy’s Law;

2.    Participating in an evaluation of the victim’s ability to manage his or her affairs and if needed, make appropriate referrals for physical and fiduciary protection (this can include setting up a conservatorship);

3.    Assisting in filling out victim compensation claims and obtaining court-ordered restitution;

4.    Providing victims with crisis intervention counselling and emergency shelter, food, medicine and clothing;

5.    Conducting home visits to assess needs;

6.    Making mental health counseling referrals to decrease or minimize trauma;

7.    Explaining our criminal justice system and giving notification of proceedings; and

8.    Arranging for transportation to court and to medical facilities for crime-related injuries.

We present this article because, while our law firm is a criminal defense firm (meaning we defend the person accused of committing elder abuse), we receive countless phone calls nonetheless from victims of elder abuse who believe we are familiar with the rights of elder abuse victims.

For more information about the issues in this article, click on the following articles:
  1. Man Who Tricked Elderly Man in His Nineties to Lend Him $133,000 Must Pay the Sum Back, Plus Interest at 10%.
  2. Granddaughter Guilty of Financial Elder Abuse through Embezzlement and Moving Grandmother Out of Home
  3. Restitution to Victim Cannot Be Increased After Probation Ends, Even If Victim Sues Defendant in Civil Lawsuit and Wins Millions
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