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How a theft charge could land you on the new elder abuse registry

On Behalf of | Mar 27, 2022 | Criminal Law

This month, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed “Shirley’s Law,” which creates the first elder abuse registry in the country. The law has been championed by a woman whose mother’s caretaker forged her name on checks. She says that her mission is now to have a nationwide registry.

While most people think that elder abuse involves physical violence or neglect, under the law, it also includes “financial exploitation.” Anyone who is convicted of these crimes in Alabama can now go on a registry that can be consulted by nursing homes and other senior care providers before hiring someone.

As our country ages, it’s not surprising that all types of elder abuse are on the rise. Last year the Alabama Department of Human Resources received over 11,000 reports of elder abuse.

How is “financial exploitation of the elderly” defined under Alabama law?

It’s important to know just how Alabama defines first-degree financial exploitation of the elderly. Here are some of the law’s highlights:

  • The property taken must have a value of at least $2,500.
  • The person charged must have used “deception, intimidation, undue influence, force, or threat of force” to take the property.
  • The person charged must have acted intentionally.
  • The victim of the alleged crime must be an “elderly person.”

What’s interesting to note is that the law defines an elderly person as “a person 60 years of age or older.” While many young people might consider someone that age to be elderly, other people wouldn’t. Further, even if someone believed the victim was younger than 60, that’s not a defense to this charge.

If you’re facing any kind of theft charge, it’s important to understand that. depending on the circumstances, if the alleged victim was 60 or older, it’s possible that you could also face a charge of financial exploitation of the elderly. That could land you on the elder abuse registry. This is just one more reason why it’s wise to have experienced legal guidance to present your case and protect your rights.