As the population of older adults continues to increase throughout the United States, the issues that matter to them are beginning to take center stage as well. Sadly, one of those issues is elder abuse. Whether you are a senior yourself or you are the loved one of someone who is a senior, it is imperative that you understand the laws relating to elder abuse. Toward that end, a Nebraska criminal defense attorney at Petersen Criminal Defense Law explains the elder abuse laws in Nebraska.
What Is “Elder Abuse?”
You likely have a fairly good idea of what is meant by the term “elder abuse” given that it sounds self-explanatory; however, the term may actually encompass more types of abuse and neglect than you realized. For example, did you know that all of the following are included in the definition of elder abuse?
- Physical abuse – this may include anything from physically restraining a victim to pushing, shoving or slapping. Sometimes, physical abuse can be severe and may include actually punching, kicking or otherwise assaulting a victim.
- Mental/emotional abuse – this involves verbal abuse in most cases and can take the form of degrading a victim verbally, threatening harm or abandonment, or name-calling.
- Sexual abuse – the elderly are sexually abused far more often than people realize. This form of abuse includes anything from inappropriate touching to rape.
- Neglect – neglect may include things such as failing to help the victim with personal hygiene, failing to give the victim medication when it is due, and/or isolating a victim from loved ones or even necessary interaction with doctors and other professionals.
- Abandonment – this involves outright desertion of the victim by someone who has agreed to care for him/her.
- Financial exploitation – this is actually the most common type of elder abuse and may include things such as misuse of funds, unauthorized “borrowing” assets, and/or outright theft of money or other assets from the victim.
How Common Is Elder Abuse?
Although everyone acknowledges that elder abuse occurs at an alarming rate, accurate figures are difficult to compile due in large part to the fact that victims of elder abuse frequently do not report the abuse. Sometimes they do not report being victimized because they are almost exclusively dependent on the perpetrator while other victims remain silent because they are embarrassed to have been abused. Nevertheless, experts have offered some conservative estimates relating to elder abuse. For example, experts believe that less than one in 15 instances of elder abuse or neglect is reported. In addition, each year there are five million instances of elder financial abuse and about two million instances of physical abuse or neglect each year. While it may be difficult to believe, in over 75 percent of elder abuse cases, a family member is the perpetrator.
Elder Abuse Is a Crime in Nebraska!
When most people contemplate elder abuse, they think in terms of civil law remedies, such as filing a lawsuit against a care facility or an individual caretaker. Those lawsuits are, indeed, an option when a senior has been abused; however, abuse of the elderly is also a criminal offense. Nebraska Revised Statute 28-386 specifically governs acts of abuse or neglect of the elderly. According to the statute, “A person commits knowing and intentional abuse, neglect, or exploitation of a vulnerable adult or senior adult if he or she through a knowing and intentional act causes or permits a vulnerable adult or senior adult to be:
- Physically injured
- Unreasonably confined
- Sexually abuse
- Cruelly punished
- Sexually exploited
Abuse of the elderly under this statute is charged as a Class IIIA felony in Nebraska, punishable by up to three years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine.
Contact an Omaha Drug Crime Lawyer at Petersen Law Office
If you have been charged with a criminal offense in Nebraska, consult with an experienced Nebraska criminal defense lawyer at Petersen Law Office as soon as possible to discuss your legal options. In Nebraska contact Petersen Criminal Defense Law 24 hours a day at 402-509-8070 to discuss your case.