The older Florida residents grow, the more vulnerable they become to elder abuse. This situation is severely aggravated for disabled adults and individuals who lack the capacity to consent. In this article, you will find an essential guide on elder abuse laws in Florida.
Defining Elder Abuse in Florida – An Introduction
Florida Statutes §825.101(4) defines an “elder person” as someone “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 Statutes §825.102(1), the legal definition of elder abuse in Florida encompasses:
- “Intentional infliction of physical or psychological injury upon an elderly person or disabled adult
- An intentional act that could reasonably be expected to result in physical or psychological injury to an elderly person or disabled adult
- Active encouragement of any person to commit an act that results or could reasonably be expected to result in physical or psychological injury to an elderly person or disabled adult; or
- Intentionally, and without lawful authority, isolating or restricting access of an elderly person or a disabled adult to family members for any length of time which could reasonably be expected to result in physical or psychological injury to the elderly person or disabled adult, or
- With the intent to promote, facilitate, conceal, or disguise some form of criminal activity involving the person or property of the elderly person or disabled adult”
What Constitutes Elder Abuse in the State of Florida? – Civil and Criminal Penalties
Elder abuse is a crime of a serious nature that requires immediate action from various avenues of Florida’s justice system. Depending on the severity and recurrence of this heinous behavior, the perpetrator may face both civil and criminal penalties.
If a Florida resident is a victim of elder abuse, that person can file civil litigation against the culprit of the abuse seeking damages for the injuries suffered – whether it is emotional, physical, financial, psychological, or any type of abuse and neglect.
Florida Statutes §415.1111 specifies that “the action may be brought by:
- The vulnerable adult, or
- That person’s guardian, by a person or organization acting on behalf of the vulnerable adult with the consent of that person or that person’s guardian, or
- The personal representative of the estate of a deceased victim without regard to whether the cause of death resulted from the abuse, neglect, or exploitation”
According to Florida Statutes §825.103, elder abuse is considered a felony within state jurisdiction and must be punished accordingly.
If the perpetrator’s actions result in the victim’s serious bodily harm or permanent disfigurement, the action is considered a first-degree felony and punished with up to 30 years in prison.
If the perpetrator’s actions did not result in the victim’s serious bodily harm or permanent disfigurement, the action is considered a third-degree felony and punished with up to five years in prison.
Individuals who commit aggravated neglect against seniors in Florida can be punished with up to 15 years in prison for a second-degree felony.
Cases involving financial abuse or exploitation of senior citizens can be considered a first or second-degree felony depending on the severity of the financial damage.