Elder abuse has never been a more significant issue, with one in ten older individuals reportedly affected. So, what exactly constitutes? This is a serious subject with far-reaching implications. It can range from physical abuse to neglect and abandonment.
Unfortunately, it is also a largely silent problem. Therefore, whether an individual suspects elder abuse in Florida or not, it’s crucial to take the matter seriously. Strictly in terms of the Sunshine State, an excellent place to start is by exploring what this entails.
What Is Deemed Elder Abuse in the State of Florida?
This is defined in much the same way as in most other U.S. states. By that token, elder abuse in Florida can be determined as any act, threatened or willful, perpetrated by a caregiver, and likely to cause serious harm. Such harm includes significant damage to an elderly adult’s physical, emotional, or mental well-being.
In Florida, this abuse may further extend to intimidation, financial exploitation, and deception by misrepresentation. Threatening to withhold food, medicine, or medical treatment is also viewed along the same lines in Florida and many other states. At the same time, so are similar threats pertaining to housing and supervision.
Statutes in place in Florida, in particular, offer several solutions where this abuse is identified. These solutions include Adult Protective Services, civil actions, and criminal sanctions.
What Are the Main Types of Elder Abuse in Florida?
Florida or otherwise, elder abuse is generally accepted to exist in eight primary forms regardless of where it occurs. These main forms are:
- Emotional abuse
- Financial exploitation
- Material exploitation
- Physical abuse
- Sexual abuse
Abandonment and Emotional Abuse
Abandonment includes desertion of an older adult reliant on care by an individual with physical custody or assumed responsibility. Emotional abuse concurrently pertains to the infliction of anguish, distress, or pain. That can be via both verbal and non-verbal acts.
Exploitation and Neglect
Elsewhere, financial or material exploitation concerns the improper use of an elderly individual’s assets, funds, or property. That’s either illegal or simply improper. On the other hand, neglect relates to the failure or refusal to carry out any agreed-upon obligations tied to the care of an elderly person reliant on outside assistance.
Self-Neglect, Physical, and Sexual Abuse
Physical and sexual abuse is defined as in any other instance, regardless of an individual’s age. Self-neglect, meanwhile, broadly relates to behaviors of an elder likely to threaten their own health, safety, or well-being more generally.
What Age Is Considered Elderly in Florida?
From Aventura in Miami-Dade to Pasco County’s Zephyrhills, elder abuse Florida-wide often hinges on precisely what constitutes old age in the Sunshine State. The age at which an individual becomes considered elderly in Florida is 60 years old – the same point at which they’re deemed a senior citizen.
That’s based on Chapter 501 Section 2077 of the 2021 Florida Statutes. Section 2077 of Chapter 501 states that, in Florida, a senior citizen is a person who is 60 years of age or older.
Elsewhere in the U.S., individuals may not be thought of as elderly or senior citizens until they reach 65. Some people mistakenly believe that an individual doesn’t constitute the title of senior citizen until they hit the age of 70. Certainly, in Florida, they’d be mistaken by a whole decade. Meanwhile, the American Association of Retired Persons even considers those aged over 50 to be seniors. That’s whether they’re a part of the retirement community or not.
Is Elder Abuse a Crime in Florida?
Yes, in Florida, elder abuse is viewed as a serious crime. Accordingly, in addition to civil penalties, proven instances of can result in criminal punishments.
What Is the Penalty for Elder Abuse in Florida?
Under Florida’s Criminal Punishment Code, perpetrators of elder abuse can find themselves punished with up to 30 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
That’s because the most severe cases are deemed first-degree felonies in Florida. With that, they also carry a minimum of almost three years in prison, even where an offender has no prior criminal history. Perpetrators also risk up to 30 years of probation in addition to prison time and a five-figure fine.
What to Do if You Suspect Elder Abuse
Anyone who suspects a case of elder abuse, elder neglect, or elder exploitation in Florida can report their suspicions online or by phone to the Florida Abuse Hotline. Counselors assess each report to determine whether an investigation is necessary. Adult protective investigators then carry out checks from the appropriate county office.
Those worried about elder abuse Florida-wide can also approach Tampa-based Schwartz Law Firm for further help and support in dealing with the matter from a legal perspective. Whatever the nature of your concerns, we’d be more than happy to arrange a no-obligation consultation in order to assess the situation.
Contact us to discuss your options. Regardless of the circumstances, we’re on hand to help wherever individuals or families require the support of a lawyer when it comes to elder abuse in Florida.