abused senior citizens

Domestic Violence vs. Elder Abuse of Senior Citizens

Although domestic violence towards senior citizens and elder abuse overlap in certain ways, they are not the same thing. In California, domestic violence is any abusive act committed by someone against his or her spouse, relative, or current or former member of his or her household. The most common domestic violence is between intimate partners (e.g. spouses, lovers, ex-partners). However, it can also include violent acts directed towards grandparents, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, children, siblings, or roommates. Elder abuse, on the other hand, is defined in California as any abusive act committed against someone aged 65 or older. No relationship must exist between abuser and victim for an act of violence to be considered elder abuse.  Elder abuse doesn’t only encompass physical abuse. It can also include the following:

  • Emotional abuse;
  • Sexual abuse;
  • Financial abuse; and/or
  • Neglect/endangerment.

Although domestic abuse is categorized by the nature of the relationship between the abuser and the victim, and elder abuse is categorized by the age of the victim, under certain circumstances one incident of violence could be considered both crimes. While most cases of elder abuse are also domestic violence, most cases of domestic violence are not elder abuse. 

What Crime Will You Be Charged With?

In California, domestic violence and elder abuse are usually punished much more seriously than other types of violence. They can be charged as either misdemeanors or felonies depending upon the circumstances. While one incident may cause you to be charged under both categories, each specific charge will likely fall under different aspects of the crime. For instance, if you harass your grandfather over the phone before physically assaulting him, you may be charged with domestic violence for the phone calls and elder abuse for the assault. 

In deciding what the charges against you should be, prosecutors generally look to several factors:

  • If the incident is more clearly one category over the other
  • Which charge will you most likely be convicted under
  • Which charge has the harshest penalty
  • What the circumstances of the incident were

There’s no doubt that a charge of either domestic violence or elder abuse can be very complex with many considerations.

The Law Office of Ronald L. Freeman Helps Those in California Who Have Been Charged with a Crime 

If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime in California, you should be sure to take it seriously. Such a charge can have tremendous life-long effects on you, impacting everything from where you can work to where you can live, to what you are allowed to possess. That’s why it is so important to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced San Bernardino and Riverside criminal defense attorney who understands criminal law and can help to walk you through the whole process. 

At the Law Office of Ronald L. Freeman, our San Bernardino and Riverside criminal defense attorneys will work to defend your freedom, collect proper evidence to help your case and work hard to have the criminal charges against you dropped or reduced. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today!