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Elder Abuse in Texas: Overview of the Law and Consequences

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Did you know that special rights and protections are afforded to all Texan citizens who are 65-years-old or older? A failure to fully understand these rights could cost you big time. That’s because there’s a ton of criminal charges that are encompassed under elder abuse laws in Texas.

If you or a loved one were charged with an elder abuse crime, then you were likely taken right to jail. You weren’t given an opportunity to defend yourself, but you will have the chance when your charges and the circumstances surrounding your crime are discussed in court.

You need to do everything you can to prepare yourself for that day. That includes learning everything you can about elder abuse laws in Texas, your potential defenses and your options going forward. Start educating yourself right now by considering the information below.

What Rights Do Elderly Texans Have?

So, what types of rights and protections are specifically afforded to the elderly in Texas? Here’s a broad overview of elderly rights according to the Attorney General of Texas:

  • Right to be free of abuse (physical, mental and emotional)
  • Right to dignity and respect
  • Right to exercise their civil rights
  • Right to designate a legal guardian
  • Right to privacy
  • Right to speak out about improper medical or nursing home care
  • Right to manage their own financial affairs
  • Right to make an informed choice about medical care

These laws are in place to protect our aging loved ones, but they can cause friction when a senior citizen starts to lose their ability to remain independent.

There are a lot of grey areas in Texas law, too. For example, can a senior citizen with dementia consent to a sexual relationship? Can someone with Alzheimer’s Disease consent to giving away their life savings? These questions often come up in court and it takes a lot of analysis on everyone’s part to come to an agreement over whether your actions constituted a crime or not. Below, we’ll get into what types of actions against seniors are considered crimes in Texas.

Were you accused of elder abuse? Attorney Brett Podolsky can help »

Elder Abuse Laws in Texas

As stated above, seniors (and all Texans) have the right to live free from abuse. Abuse is defined by Texas law as the negligent or willful infliction of injury against another.

Exploitation occurs when a designated care provider (which can be a family member) attempts to misuse a senior citizen’s disability for personal gain. Neglect, which is also a crime, happens when the primary caregiver fails to fully tend to the needs of another who depends on them.

Here’s a brief overview of the types of actions that would constitute a crime against an elderly citizen in Texas:

  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Financial abuse
  • Emotional abuse (including verbal threats or degrading remarks)

There’s a host of crimes associated with these actions. From theft to rape, the penalties vary depending on the crime committed.

Consequences of Elder Abuse

The severity of your penalty largely depends on the circumstances and nature of the incident. In general, egregious violations or actions involving physical harm are treated more harshly by the law. Here are a few of the types of punishments courts could levy if you’re convicted of abusing an elderly citizen:

  • Imprisonment
  • Fines
  • Restraining order to protect the victim
  • Loss of professional licenses
  • Banned from working with elderly citizens in the future
  • Loss of employment
  • Community service

Were you or a loved one recently charged with an elder abuse crime? Don’t make the mistake of trying to represent yourself in court against these serious accusations. Hire a criminal defense lawyer who can help you devise a winning defense strategy.

Defenses to Elder Abuse Charges

If you were accused of abusing an elderly Texan, then you need to start preparing your defense strategy as soon as possible. Here are some of the most common defense arguments against elderly abuse charges:

  • Mistake of fact (you didn’t commit the abuse)
  • You were not willfully or intentionally negligent (you were overwhelmed)
  • The victim is not an elder (you could still face other criminal charges)
  • Self-defense
  • The elderly person consented to the action (in situations like financial payments)

You’ll need to understand all the circumstances surrounding your arrest and what evidence the police have against you before you decide how you’ll defend yourself. 

Learn how a criminal defense attorney can help. Get your free ebook today »

Getting Help with Elderly Care

 Are you currently the primary caregiver to an elderly Texan citizen? Did your frustration and overwhelming stress contribute to the incident that led to criminal charges?

There’s no shame in admitting that caring for your aging loved one is too much for you. As we age, we start to lose independence. Health conditions, along with deteriorating mental health, often leads to an inability to be left alone for too long. It’s nearly impossible to juggle a full-time job and full-time care for an elderly loved one who needs it.

There are options for you and your family. Consider hiring an at-home provider who can fill in the gaps while you take time to focus on your career, other family members, or yourself. If your loved one needs significant medical attention, then a reputable nursing home may be your best option.

Looking to the Future After Getting Charged with Elder Abuse in Texas 

If you’ve been charged with elder abuse in Texas, then you could be facing a wide range of penalties. First, you need to decide how you will plead – guilty or not guilty. Regardless of your decision, it’s important to hire an experienced attorney to help you through the process.

A good lawyer will help you make pro-active moves if you’re considering pleading guilty. If you take preemptive educational courses, take up community service, or make other moves to show the court that you’re remorseful, then your penalties will likely be reduced.

If you’re planning on pleading not guilty, then an attorney will provide invaluable advice on how to defend yourself against the charges.

After that, you’ll need to make a court appearance. Then, you’ll need to cope with whatever punishments the courts dole out to you. As all of this chaos goes on around you, you may have an aging loved one who is at home alone. If so, then consider researching your options for eldercare. 

Do you need help researching your options or determining the best defense strategy in your situation? Our office can help. Reach out to us now to learn more.

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