A 38-year-old man and ex-police officer with the Pinole Police Department (name withheld to protect the accused’s anonymity) has been sentenced to 2 months in county jail for his part in what prosecutors have claimed was the victimization of an elderly lady he had supposedly only known for a few years. The original charges were of felony filing false documents, attempted grand theft (CA Penal Code 487), and elder abuse. However, after making a deal with the prosecution, he was only brought to court for having filed falsified documents that pertained to his evidently imminent bankruptcy. Still, there were those who thought that the deal was unfair and that the man purposefully and maliciously took advantage of his now deceased elderly neighbor. So, what were the documents in question? They were evidently documents, like a living trust and last will and testament, that squarely allowed the man to gain full control of his neighbor’s financial dealings and to leave all her wealth to him upon her death. While doing this, the man consistently represented himself as an officer of the law, creating concerns about his having forced the woman to do as he asked, though she was operating at a diminished capacity, mentally speaking.
Though the 2-month sentence related to document forgery, it is important to remember that California law protects its elderly citizens from abuse by law. CA Penal Code 368 is the most definitive of the myriad number of statutes that concern elder abuse. Anyone who is 65 years of age or older is considered an ‘elder’ and financially exploiting an elderly person, physically abusing them, emotionally abusing them, or neglecting them in any way could end in criminal charges. This crime is a California ‘wobbler,’ meaning that it could be prosecuted either as a misdemeanor or as a felony, depending on the circumstances of the particular case. If you are convicted of a misdemeanor charge of elder abuse, you can expect to spend up to 1 year in county jail and pay several thousands of dollars in fines. On the other hand, a felony conviction will likely result in imprisonment for a space of up to 4 years.