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(951) 667-5293

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who you hire can make all the difference

Mr. Donath has spent his entire career defending people and standing up for the rights of the accused.

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  • former deputy public defender

    As a former Deputy Public Defender in Riverside County, Mr. Donath has always been on the defense side of the law. 

  • award winning certified criminal law specialist

    Top 100 Trial Attorneys in California 2012-2014, 2008 Trial Attorney of the Year by the Riverside County Public Defender's Office, and dozens of other awards and accolades.

  • a true passion for defending the accused

    Your lawyer should have a passion for defense, not just a passion for money. Reputation, vigor, and determination go a long way in this business.

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Riverside Elder Abuse Lawyer

Elder abuse is a serious crime. If you’ve recently been charged with elder abuse, you may be worried about your future, especially if you feel the allegations are untrue. Elder abuse is a complex and multi-faceted crime – a Riverside elder abuse lawyer can help you understand the charges and possible defenses may ease your confusion and help you prepare for what comes next.

What Is Elder Abuse? California Penal Code 368 PC

Penal Code 368 classifies elder abuse as any kind of harm inflicted on someone aged 65 or older. Abuse is much more complex than just hitting someone – in fact, elder abuse can occur in any of the following contexts:

  • The law defines neglect as willfully endangering an elder’s well-being by failing to act or provide care. Neglect might rise to the level of physical abuse when it causes actual harm in an elder. A common example is the development of bedsores from improper attention. Though the sores occur from neglect, their presence does physical harm.
  • Physical abuse occurs when someone inflicts physical harm to an elder without any just cause. Though there’s no “just” cause to hurt an elderly person, the law distinguishes between intent to harm and the incidental harms someone can cause by moving a fragile individual.  
  • Emotional abuse occurs when a senior experiences mental distress through false imprisonment, isolation, or mockery. Again, if the emotional abuse escalates to such a degree that the senior causes self-harm, the courts may see it as physical abuse in addition to emotional.
  • Financial abuse involves taking advantage of a senior for financial gain. Examples include coercing an elder to amend a will or deed, cashing Social Security checks for personal use, or charging personal expenses to an elder’s room in a nursing home.

Elder abuse can be a misdemeanor or a felony, which makes it a “wobbler crime” – it can wobble between the two depending on the situation. The prosecution may label it as either, depending on the nature and gravity of the offense, as well as a defendant’s prior criminal history.

Misdemeanor offenses are punishable by fines and/or up to one year in jail. Felony offenses may result in a punishment of up to 4 years in a state prison.

I Have Been Charged With Elder Abuse. Now What?

If you have been charged with elder abuse, elder neglect or any related elder crimes, exercise your right to remain silent. The prosecution or arresting officers may try to twist any words you say to use them against you in court. Never speak about the case unless you are in the presence of a elder crimes defense attorney, and never sign any written statements without his or her blessing.

You likely have a complex relationship with the alleged victim if you have been charged with elder abuse, so facing these sorts of charges can be an emotional experience. It is impossible for us to tell you exactly how we would defend your case, because each one has a unique set of circumstances. However, there are some general tactics our Riverside elder abuse lawyer employs in an effort to get your charges reduced or dismissed:

  • Insufficient evidence. In a criminal proceeding, the burden of proof rests on the prosecution. To successfully achieve a conviction for elder abuse, a district attorney must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:
    • You willfully committed the alleged acts or allowed someone else to do so.
    • You knew the victim was over the age of 65.
    • Your behavior caused or may have caused an imminent threat to the health, life, or welfare of the victim.

If all three of these elements do not exist, you cannot be found guilty of elder abuse. If, for example, an injury was the result of an accident, the act of abuse did not occur.

  • False accusations. Sometimes, jealousy and resentment can cause people to lash out. Maybe an elder promised you a large sum of money and a jealous family member took matters into his or her own hands. In most states, there is no crime for reporting abuse, even if the allegations prove to be unfounded. In another scenario, perhaps someone reported abuse with honest intentions, but the injuries an elder sustained were simply not the consequence of abuse.
  • The Presumption of InnocenceIn any criminal proceeding, you start with a presumption of innocence. This means the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the allegations against you are true. This also means a prosecuting attorney must provide evidence that you willfully committed the act or allowed someone else to do so. There are many avenues of defense in these situations, and a skilled defense attorney can discuss your best options.

Nonetheless, a good Riverside Elder Abuse Attorney can help you evaluate and build up a strong qualified case.

What Do I Do After Being Charged With Elder Abuse? 

If you’ve been charged with elder abuse, the most important thing you can do is to remain silent. Do not sign any statements or answer any questions until your Riverside elder abuse attorney arrives. Many people speak out because they feel they’ve done nothing wrong, only to have the police or a prosecutor interpret what they’ve said in a way they didn’t intend or expect.

Employing the Right Riverside Elder Abuse Attorney

If you are facing elder abuse charges, the most important thing you can do is to hire the right legal representation. Prosecuting attorneys pursue these types of cases very doggedly. You need a Riverside elder abuse attorney willing to fight back and protect your rights. At the Law Offices of Graham D. Donath, APC we will work to defend you with our years of expertise and knowledge. For a free initial consultation, contact our office today for more information.