DC Vulnerable Adult Abuse
A vulnerable adult is any person 18 years of age or older who has either a physical or mental condition that substantially impairs them from adequately providing for their own care or protection. A person with a mental condition that prevents them from providing for their own overall medical and personal care would also qualify as a vulnerable adult.
Any action or speech a reasonable person would consider harassing or threatening could be considered criminal abuse against a vulnerable adult. This abuse is a serious offense of which penalties can include hefty fines and extensive time in jail, making it important those accused consult with a domestic violence lawyer in DC as soon as possible to begin building a defense.
Proof & Penalties
There are three ways for the prosecution to establish abuse of a vulnerable adult. If the prosecution proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant intentionally or knowingly:
- Inflicted or threatened to inflict physical pain or injury (E.g. – hit, slapped, kicked, pinched, bit the vulnerable adult).
- Repeated or made malicious verbal or written statements that a reasonable person would consider harassing or threatening.
- Imposed an unreasonable confinement or involuntary seclusion against the vulnerable adult’s will or the directions of their legal representative.
The penalties that a person will face if charged with criminal abuse of a vulnerable adult depend on the harm caused to the vulnerable adult. If the abuse causes serious bodily injury or severe mental distress to the vulnerable adult, the potential penalties are imprisonment for up to 10 years, a fine of $2,500, or both. If the abuse causes permanent bodily harm or death, the potential penalties are imprisonment for up to 20 years, a fine of $50,000, or both. If a person commits criminal abuse, but does not cause serious bodily injury, severe mental distress, permanent bodily harm, or death, the potential penalties are up to 180 days in jail, $1,000 fine, or both.
Role of an Attorney
A lawyer will compile all of the evidence in order to disprove any allegations that the client inflicted pain or injury, made malicious statements towards the person that could be considered harassing or threatening, and imposed any unreasonable confinement or involuntary seclusion against that person’s will. The defense lawyer will also compile any evidence that shows that the complaining witness is not actually a vulnerable adult. That may include any evidence demonstrating that the complaining witness is not substantially impaired from adequately providing for his or her own care or protection.
In order to ensure you have the strongest defense possible for your case it is best to contact a lawyer in the District of Columbia as soon as you become aware of an investigation or have been charged with criminal abuse. Depending on the circumstances of the incident and type of harm endured by the vulnerable adult, the accused could be charged with either a misdemeanor or a felony. An attorney will be in the best position to advise you about what to expect during the rest of the investigation and what to expect if you are charged, and to help build the best possible defense for you.