Exploitation of Vulnerable Adults

Exploitation of Vulnerable AdultsMost states now have specific laws that are designed to protect the elderly.  These statutes are all relatively new compared to other laws, and came about in response to advances in technology, which made the elderly especially vulnerable to financial crimes and fraud.  Just as there are harsh laws against the abuse or exploitation of minors, Maryland also has harsh criminal laws against abusing and defrauding the elderly.  If a person were to steal from another person he or she could expect a theft charge, but if that same person steals from an elderly person in such a way that the state can allege fraud, the charges will be much more serious.  If you or a loved one is facing charges for exploitation of a vulnerable adult it is imperative to hire an experienced lawyer.  Not only are the maximum punishments for this crime extremely harsh, many defendants feel as if the justice system does not treat this crime fairly.  Many times a person charged with this crime will feel as if they are guilty until proven innocent, but the defense attorneys at The Herbst Firm never lets the justice system take advantage of of its clients.  Benjamin Herbst has actual experience defending these charges, and understands what it takes to secure an acquittal or to work out the best possible negotiation with the state.  Contact the firm to set up a free consultation today and let us start fighting for you.

There are many different definitions for exploitation, and the defendant’s conduct has to fall into one of these definitions or else the charges must be dismissed.  The prosecutor must prove that the defendant exploited an elderly person with deception, intimidation, or undue influence.  Deception and intimidation are self-explanatory.  Undue influence is defined as domination and influence amounting to force and coercion exercised by another person to such an extent that the person was prevented from exercising free judgment and choice.  There are two classes of people protected in these laws, and despite the fact that 68 years of age is no longer that old, under the state law this age qualifies as elderly, and are protected under this criminal statute.  Vulnerable adults who cannot care for themselves without assistance are also protected under the law.

If the deception, intimidation, or undue influence results in a loss for the victim of less than $500 then the charge will be a misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of 18 months in jail.  Surprisingly, if the loss to the elderly victim is over $500 the charge becomes a felony and the maximum penalty increases ten times to 15 years in jail.  In addition, the defendant may be charged with other related crime such as theft.  The statute specifically allows this, and it is not double jeopardy to be charged with both these crimes for the same act.  This law also includes a provision that the defendant is required to restore the property taken upon conviction, and if he or she fails to do so then he or she could be excluded from inheriting anything from the victim’s estate.  This provision was designed specifically for thefts within the family or involving caretakers.  There are a variety of defenses to this charge, and an experienced criminal defense lawyer can go over them in detail.
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