Wrongfully Accused Of Elder Abuse

What To Do If You Are Wrongfully Accused Of Elder Abuse

If you work with senior citizens, you could be wrongfully accused of elder abuse.

It’s a lot more common than you think.

what happens if you are accused of elder abuse

There are many laws that protect senior citizens from elder abuse.

It can come in many forms, from physical abuse to sexual, psychological, financial, neglect or discrimination. But caregivers are not perfect and sometimes make innocent mistakes. And other times, they do not make mistakes but are reported as abusers by someone who is jealous or seeks revenge against the caregiver.

Today, we’re taking a closer look at what might happen if wrongfully accused of elder abuse and how you can protect yourself.

Let’s get started …

Wrongfully Accused Of Elder Abuse

Perhaps you are a caregiver for an elderly person, and a jealous family member accuses you of stealing money or property because he is jealous that you are getting gifts from the elder or you are in her will.

Or perhaps an angry family member feels like you have too much control over the elder and her finances and wants to stop you from continuing. There are many scenarios where a vengeful person can take aim at a caregiver with whom they are at odds.

Believe it or not, court records have shown that some family members have actually put blame on caregivers just to cover up their own criminal activities. It happens.

There is also the situation where an elder has a financial problem and everyone assumes that you as the caregiver are responsible when you are not. Cases of mistaken identity can also cause problems for caregivers.

Just as there are laws protecting the elderly, there are also laws protecting you from false accusations of abuse. Hiring an attorney is the best way to fight false accusations against you. You can find an attorney experienced in the area of elder responsibility that is involved.

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Areas of fraud

There are many kinds of elder abuse, including those with criminal designs like consumer scams, credit card scams, door-to-door solicitation, funeral, and cemetery fraud, home repair fraud, Medicare fraud, living trust “mills,” and telemarketing or direct mail fraud.

These are probably not the kinds of fraud you are being reported for, but if you are a caregiver with broad responsibilities, you should be aware of these dangers. You could be drawn into a situation that could result in harm to the elder in your care, and you could be blamed for it.

Elements of law

Before you can be convicted of financial elder abuse, a prosecutor must prove that you stole or embezzled the elder’s money or other property. In California, there are a variety of defenses to senior fraud and financial abuse that a good criminal attorney could present on your behalf.

The basic element in California law on theft is the intent. If an attorney can show you did not have the intent to deprive an elder of property, you would not be guilty of theft or embezzlement.

For example, you withdrew money from the elder’s account to buy her some clothes or fix a broken and dangerous sidewalk or repair an appliance.

Perhaps you invested some of the elder’s money in an opportunity you were sure would benefit her, but it just didn’t work out. Your intentions were good, even though the investment didn’t do as well as you had hoped. And those intentions are key to your defense.

In the case of physical care, you can be accused of abuse if the elder is injured, even if the injury was accidental. For example, bruises can result from just a small amount of pressure, due to the elder’s age and susceptibility more than any intentional force.

Having your name cleared

Finding the right attorney will help you clear your name. For criminal charges, you will need a criminal defense attorney. For civil matters, you will need an attorney who knows the specific area of law involved.

Financial suits should involve a lawyer familiar with finance and accounting. Injury suits should have an attorney experienced in dealing with medical records and medical personnel. There are attorneys who specialize in family law and those who specialize in elder law. The right attorney will be able to offer the counsel and advice you need for your particular situation.

Penalties for false claims

Many states and the U.S. Virgin Islands impose penalties against any person who intentionally files a report on elder abuse or other crimes that the person knows is false. In these states, the person making the false report can face jail time ranging from 90 days to five years, or face fines ranging from $500 to $5,000.

In Florida, the most severe penalties exist. In addition to the maximum jail time and fines, the Department of Children and Family Services can fine the person reporting up to $10,000. In six states including California, the reporter may be liable for civil penalties for any damages caused by the false report.

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16 replies
  1. john miiller says:

    When the elder as the initial attacker aggressively puts hands on someone, and their immediate response was to defend against being unlawfully touched. In responding to the initial attack of the elder this individual put his hands out attempting to prevent the elder from continuing to unlawfully touch this individual. While putting my hands out the elder simultaneously fell backwards and broke her hip. I was later arrested for elder abuse p.c., 368(b)(1). Under these circumstances, can I utilize the legal defense of self-defense, or accident…?

    Your assistance is greatly appreciated. Thank you.

    • SFVB Attorney Referral Service says:

      Hi John,

      It sounds like you may need legal assistance from someone with experience in this area of law. We can help connect you with the best attorney near you – all you have to do is fill out this form and we’ll be in touch.


  2. Susan says:

    I have been a caregiver since 1996. I took care of this lady for 3 years, in January I raised my rates as and now she is trying to accuse me of frsud. Are there as my attorney in Olympia Wa to help?

    • SFVBA Attorney Referral Service says:

      Hi Susan,

      Yes, there should be plenty of attorneys specializing in elder law in your area. If you’re not sure where to look, consider seeking the help of a certified attorney referral service as they will be able to match you with a highly-qualified lawyer.

  3. Samantha says:

    I have been a caregiver for my grandmother … 89 years young with dementia. I’m trying to find out what I can do to protect myself because others haven’t liked the way I’ve gone about doing things. I’ve never hurt her, I’ve never threatened her … I respect her with all my heart. I love my grandmother and I would never even go there, but she deserves better care than what we can give her. Everyone has said she needs to be in a Skilled Nursing Facility but my sister can’t handle it if we bring it up … “we’re just being abusive to her” … ridiculous because that’s where she got the best of care. At this point, I’m just trying to protect myself because I’m doing everything possible and my health is even suffering because of it. Do I call an attorney? How do I protect myself?

    • SFVBA Attorney Referral Service says:


      We’re so sorry to hear you’re struggling with this difficult matter. We may be able to help you find an experienced attorney. To get started, please call (818) 340-4529 to discuss your options.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I am being accused of elderly abuse by my sister in law and my mother in law and I have never done anything they are claiming that I’ve done to my mother in law

    • SFVBA Attorney Referral Service says:

      It sounds like you might need to seek legal protection. Call (818) 340-4529 to speak with one of our attorney referral consultants – they’ll ask you a few questions and set up a free consultation with a lawyer who specializes in this area of law.

  5. Dennis says:

    I’m bipolar and my parents have supported me financially since 1980 when I was diagnosed.i’m considered a disabled adult child. My dad passed away in 2015.. and my mother was put in the nursing home in jan 2018 by the state, as they claimed I had not been caring for her properly, but told me she was in there for physical therapy for a retracted knee, which she did in fact develop as I was caring for her..but they didn’t tell me that it was her permanent home until February..so in January I paid her bills and withdrew my monthly allowance as i’d been doing for every month for years..APS accused me in February of exploiting her funds and have since then, investigated me and substantiated the findings.. I didn’t just suddenly jump in to her account when she went to the nursing home, to rip her off .. I paid her bills and mine that she normally pays and withdrew my monthly allowance that i’ve been getting from my Parents since 1980..i did the same thing i’ve been doing for years with my mom’s permission.. I get this letter from APS accusing me of exploiting her funds. I don’t know how far a psychologist’s word or opinion goes in court but mine claims that APS is bullying and harassing me.

    • Karla says:

      Wow that’s crewel I’m sorry to hear that you are going through this. The system bullies people a lot but not the right ones most of the time. Had they done thier homework they would have seen the pattern . Also unless your mom has dementia they can ask her. Get an attorney asap because I see them trying to railroad you.

    • SFVBA Attorney Referral Service says:

      Hi Dennis,

      We’re so sorry to hear about this. It sounds like you might need to explore your legal options at this point – we may be able to help arrange a free consultation with an attorney specializing in elder law.

      Give us a call at (818) 340-4529 or complete an attorney request form here to get started.

  6. Nancy Loera says:

    I recently found out that my ex-boyfriends daughter filed an elder abuse case against me in 2013. It was dismissed due to me and her father not showing up for court. Neither of us were served papers or knew anything about the case. If not for a background check for a new job I would probably never have known about this being on my record. My question is can I have this removed from my record and can criminal charges be brought against the daughter for causing this to happen?

    • SFVBA Attorney Referral Service says:


      Thanks for your question – please consider giving us a call at (818) 340-4529 and tell us a little more about the situation.

  7. Anonimo says:

    I’m working as carer assistant
    I have be accused from one resident, to talked to her like a child,im inoccent,i am a very friendly and i care soo much for all the residents,what can i do to prove i’m inoccent?

  8. Yvonne Huertas says:

    I have a lady that lives in my parents home her daughter is her caregiver she has not been around for s month. We have sold the before this now the lady won’t leave. She is threatening elder abuse in me and my family which is not true and she wants to extort money then she will leave what can we do.


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