What Are the Consequences of Stealing From the Elderly in Florida?



Unfortunately, elder abuse and neglect are far too common, but not just in the typical way that people may be familiar with when it comes to abuse. Most people are familiar with physical, mental, and verbal abuse. However, there’s a form of abuse that’s just as incidence and less talked about—financial abuse.

Typically financial abuse is a form of abuse used to keep the victim trapped and unable to escape their abuser. When it comes to the elderly, not only is financial abuse keeping them trapped in a certain situation, but many times they aren’t even aware the abuse is occurring. Most financial abuse of the elderly is done by their own family members, caregivers, or other parties that manage their affairs—meaning the older adults trust these individuals with their livelihood.

Understanding the Financial Exploitation of the Elderly

Florida’s statute titled the “exploitation of an elderly person, or disabled adult” became effective in October 2014. It was designed to make it easier for prosecutors to convict people who take advantage of the elderly. The statute also enhanced the penalties that could be imposed should an individual be convicted. However, a crime must be identified first to convict or charge someone with financial exploitation of an elderly individual.

Common forms of financial abuse of the elderly include:

  • Forged financial documents
  • Forged power of attorney form or signature
  • Assets are transferred to other accounts under the guise that it is to assist the elderly individual
  • Bills go unpaid despite the elderly individual having the necessary amount
  • Checks written for large amounts
  • Money is transferred out of a bank account without consent
  • Unauthorized changes made to estate documents or wills
  • A former caregiver remains as the social security representative payee
  • Cash, financial statements, and other valuables go missing
  • An older adult is made to sign documents they don’t entirely understand

Cases involving financial abuse can be difficult to prosecute because they often arise from situations in which the older adult is being abused by someone they trusted. An attorney can help keep the situation as calm as possible while still fighting to protect the older adult against exploitation.

Penalties for the Financial Exploitation of the Elderly

In Florida, financial abuse is classified separately from other types of theft crimes because it involves the act of preying or taking advantage of a vulnerable group in society. Penalties for financial exploitation of the elderly depend on the amount of money, assets, funds, or property involved.

Generally, the penalties consist of:

  • Third-degree felony: property value is less than $10,000 and punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine
  • Second-degree felony: property value is $10,000 or more but less than $50,000 and publishable by up to 15 years in prison
  • First-degree felony: property value is at $50,000 or more and punishable by up to 30 years in prison

Realizing that someone you trust is stealing from you can be emotionally difficult, and it can seem challenging to even think about pressing charges against a loved one. However, older adults worked for their finances. When they realize they’re being abused, they have a right to press charges, and because it can be a deeply emotional situation, they benefit from working with a skilled attorney. An attorney will have the objectivity to handle the situation fairly, ensure that the rights of the older adult are protected, and even work to keep a relationship intact if desired.

Fighter Law Can Help You Stand Up Against Elder Exploitation

At Fighter Law, our board-certified attorneys are determined to fight for you. We understand that the circumstances around financial elder abuse can be personal and emotional. Our attorneys have handled numerous cases where the defendant is a loved one and know how to keep situations from getting heated or out of hand. We also speak both Spanish and English, so you can feel comfortable expressing your concerns in the language of your choice. Our goal is to protect you, your rights, and your best interest.

Contact us today to schedule a consultation at (407) 344-4837, or fill out our contact form.

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