Theft from Elder or Dependent Adult – What You Need to Know
Being charged with stealing from an elderly person or dependent adult is a serious matter and can result in up to several years in prison plus significant fines. Here's what you need to know if you're charged with this crime and what you can do to defend yourself.
What is Theft from an Elder or Dependent Adult?
Theft from an elder or dependent adult is a unique type of theft requiring several major proofs for conviction. According to California Penal Code 368 (d and e):
- The defendant has to commit theft, forgery, embezzlement, fraud, or identity theft, all of which are variations on the primary crime of stealing AND
- The property or personal identifying information taken by the accused thief must be owned by an elder or dependent adult
The accused may either be the caretaker or should be able to reasonably understand that the owner of the property was an elder or dependent adult. In other words, this type of thievery is not limited only to elderly caretakers.
In the eyes of the court, an elder is anyone over the age of 65. A dependent adult is anyone between 18 and 64 years old and who has a mental or physical limitation that restricts their abilities to carry out normal activities.
What Possible Penalties Exist?
Cases may be tried as either misdemeanors or felonies. PC 368 cases are normally tried as misdemeanors unless the dollar amount of the personal information or property is greater than $950, in which case the prosecution can press the charge as a felony charge.
If convicted under a misdemeanor charge, the defendant may be subject to:
- Up to a year in county jail
- Fines of up to $6000
If convicted under a felony charge, the potential penalties are much more severe. Defendants may be subject to:
- Imprisonment and the above fines
- State imprisonment for between two and four years
Defenses to Charges of Theft from an Elder or Dependent Adult
California defense attorneys can provide multiple possible defenses for these charges.
Age Was Unknown
A defendant or their legal counsel could claim that they didn't know that the person stolen from was over the age of 65 or a dependent adult.
Property Owner Was Not Known
In the event that the accused didn't know that the property belonged to an elderly person or dependent adult, thievery could not have taken place. This may apply to property left “out in the open”, for instance.
Defendants may be falsely accused of stealing property or personal information from an elderly person or dependent adult, particularly if their mental faculties are suspect. Defense counsel can call this into question and point out areas where proof may not be available that the defendant did, in fact, take any property unknowingly or to keep it.
Why You Need a California Criminal Defense Attorney
When it comes to any criminal trial, time is of the essence. That's why you need the North Bay's best criminal defense attorney: the office of Peter James Chambers. With years of experience defending regular people just like you from unjust criminal charges, we're well equipped and ready to help you avoid a conviction and get back to your life. Contact us today for a free consultation.