Title 16 Chapter 5 Article 8 of the Official Code of Georgia is titled “Protection of Elder Persons.” This article establishes certain crimes where the alleged victim is an elder person. In these cases, you typically see enhanced punishment and aggressive prosecution from elected prosecutors who know the political realities of “protecting the elderly.” People who regularly work with elderly people need to be aware of all of these crimes to ensure they are never in a position to be falsely accused of a crime.

The context of these crimes varies greatly ranging from violence to sexual abuse, to theft and fraud. If you are facing charges elder abuse charges you are going to be facing an aggressive prosecution and should get a hardworking defense attorney. A Newnan elder abuse lawyer could assist you in fighting the charges and putting up a strong defense.

Neglect of an Elder or Disabled Person or a Resident

A guardian of an elderly person or someone who has control, custody, or is in charge of caring for an elderly person, disabled person, or resident owes a special duty to that person. If the caregiver purposefully deprives their ward of necessary sustenance to the extent that the ward’s well-being is jeopardized can be prosecuted under this code section.

This section does not apply to physicians, hospice care facilities, long-term care facilities, and their employees acting in good faith pursuant to a living will, durable power of attorney, advance directive, order not to resuscitate, or the direction of the patient’s lawful surrogate.

Additionally, this code section cannot be used to prosecute someone who provides spiritual treatment, in lieu of medical treatment, in accordance with the patient’s notarized directions. This is important for people of certain religions who may object to certain medical treatments. This area of law can be difficult to understand without the knowledge of an attorney in Newnan practiced in elder abuse defense.

Examples of A Neglect Conviction

Below is a case that was considered by the Georgia Supreme Court. The victim died in 2014, the defendant was convicted, and this opinion was rendered in 2017. Take a look at how the law applies to the facts.

Facts of the Case

The facts outlined below come from a reported Georgia case, Smith v. State, 301 GA. 348 (2017). This involved a caregiver who provided care for several residents. The defendant lived upstairs and provided care for residents who lived in the downstairs portion of the home.

The victim in this case earned benefits from the VA. He was a resident in the downstairs portion of the defendant’s home and the VA had arranged for the victim to spend weekdays at an adult care facility. It was clear in the agreement that the daycare would be closed on days that Clayton County Schools were closed for inclement weather.

At trial, there was much testimony regarding the defendant’s care for the victim. Witnesses testified that they saw the victim outside the home several times dressed inappropriately for the weather. Further, there was testimony that the victim had been seen outside in the summer weather with no water and that 911 had dispatched emergency responders to the home several times. Finally, the driver who would take the victim back and forth to the daycare facility testified that the victim was the only passenger made to wait outside alone in all types of weather.

On January 6, 2014, Clayton County schools were closed and therefore the daycare facility was too. On that day a neighbor saw the victim sitting outside in the extreme weather waiting on the bus at about 7:00 am. A neighbor told the victim to go inside and the victim indicated that the defendant would not let him inside of the home.

At about 10:00 am the victim was observed lying face down outside of the home, the defendant came outside and saw the victim, but went back inside without helping the victim or seeking assistance. Later that evening 911 personnel responded, found the body, took the victim to the hospital where he died from hypothermia.

The Law Applied to those Facts

In this case, prosecutors were able to prove the elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. They proved:

  1. The defendant was the primary caregiver for the victim because he was a resident in her home where she was compensated for caring for him, as well as others.
  2. The defendant deprived the victim of necessary shelter by failing to allow him in the home on a day where it was freezing outside.
  3. The victim died of hypothermia and not some other cause, so clearly, the caregiver’s refusal to allow the victim in the house jeopardized the victim’s well-being.
  4. The victim was at least 65 years old.

In sum, this case resulted in the death of the elder person, however, death is not an element of the crime. In fact, even if the victim in this case had survived, the defendant could have been prosecuted for elder abuse on a neglect theory. Not all Newnan elder abuse cases are this easy for prosecutors to prove, and a dedicated lawyer could tailor your defense specifically to the facts of your case.

Punishment for Elder Abuse in Newnan

In Newnan, the punishment for elder abuse is stout. A conviction on just one count exposes people to decades in prison. The exact range of punishment is one year in prison to 20 years in prison. That prison time may be probated. There is also a $50,000 fine that courts may impose.

Contact a Newnan Elder Abuse Attorney

If you or someone you love has been charged with elder abuse, then contact us today. Schedule a free consultation with Ryan and let’s prepare your defense. A Newnan elder abuse lawyer is available to speak to you.