On the unlawful side, California PC is the main law that targets elder abuse. This comprehensive regulation, which is applicable to anyone 65 and older, covers all types of elder abuse, including emotional, financial, and physical ones. In California, criminal elder abuse is known as a “wobbler offense,” meaning that depending on the gravity of the crime and the prosecutor’s judgment, it may be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor. 


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A violation of PC 368’s definition of felony elder abuse includes actions like:


  • Willfully causing or letting an older to experience unjustified physical pain or mental anguish
  • Willfully inflicting on an elder unjustified physical or mental pain or suffering; 
  • As the elder’s caretaker, intentionally causing or allowing the elder’s person or health to be harmed;
  • As an elder’s caretaker, intentionally placing the elder in a situation where the caretaker of the person or his/her health gets endangered


A fine of up to $6,000 and 1-4 years in jail are the penalties for felony elder abuse. However, if the abuse causes serious physical harm, the offender will be sentenced to an additional three years if the victim is younger than 70 and five years if the victim is older than 70. If the senior dies as a result of the abuse, the offender will be sentenced to an extra five years if the victim is under 70 and seven years if the victim is 70 or over.


Elder abuse that is classified as a misdemeanor only includes acts that are not very likely to result in serious physical harm or death. Misdemeanor elder abuse is punishable by up to a $1,000 fine and up to six months in prison. A second conviction for misdemeanor elder abuse, however, results in a $2,000 fine and a maximum one-year prison sentence.


Financial elder abuse, which is defined in PC 368 as theft, embezzlement, fraud, forgery, and identity theft, is also included. The severity of the punishment for financial elder abuse is greatly influenced by the value of the assets at issue. For instance, the punishment is a fine of $2,500 to $10,000 and a term of one to four years in prison for assets valued at over $950. The punishment is a fine of up to $1,000 and/or up to one year in jail for assets valued at $950 or less. 


The criminal court may also impose a Restraining Order on the abuser in any case of elder abuse covered by PC 368, which may be valid for up to 10 years.


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