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Is Elder Abuse A Felony?

Person putting their hands on elderly woman

Elder abuse is a first-degree felony under Md. Crim Code Ann. § 3-604 if it involves or results in:

  • Sexual abuse
  • Serious injury
  • Death

Penalties for a first-degree felony in Maryland can include up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Any other form of elder abuse, such as neglect or emotional abuse, is generally a second-degree misdemeanor, which includes penalties of up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

What Constitutes Elder Abuse?

It is illegal for any caregiver or family member to abuse or neglect a “vulnerable adult” in Maryland. The law defines a “vulnerable adult” as one who lacks the physical or mental capacity to provide for their own daily needs.

Elder abuse comes in many forms. Examples of elder abuse include, but are not limited to:

  • Physical abuse
  • Neglect (e.g., withholding of food, medical treatment, or reasonable care)
  • Sexual abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Financial abuse

Family members and caregivers can both be guilty of elder abuse. That means the supervisors and staff at nursing homes and assisted living facilities where abuse occurs may be subject to fines and/or imprisonment if convicted.

What Are the Signs of Elder Abuse?

Elder abuse takes many forms, but several signs may indicate its presence. If you have a relative who is living in a nursing home or assisted living facility, be on the lookout for:

  • Obvious signs of physical abuse, such as unexplained cuts, bruises, or other injuries
  • Sudden unexplained weight loss or the appearance of being malnourished
  • Inadequate personal hygiene
  • Sudden depression, anxiety, or sadness

These symptoms may manifest themselves all at the same time or individually. When you visit your loved one, take note of their condition and compare it to your last trip. Has anything changed since your last visit?

What to Do if You Suspect Elder Abuse

If you believe an elder or vulnerable adult is being abused, you can contact your local police department and the local Maryland Department of Human Services in the county where they live. Once the Adult Protective Services division or local law enforcement completes their investigation, you should have a better idea of what happened to your loved one.

It may also be prudent to remove your loved one from the facility or dismiss the caregiver as soon as possible when you suspect abuse. You should also get your loved one medical attention immediately. When doing so, ensure the attending physician or medical staff records all injuries thoroughly.

Nursing Home Neglect Can Be Elder Abuse

It’s sad to think about, but sometimes the people we trust to care for our elderly loved ones violate that trust. This abuse can be physical, such as kicking or hitting, but the law also classifies intentional neglect by a caregiver of a vulnerable adult as a crime.

Obviously, denying a vulnerable adult things like food, medication, or bathing also qualify. Maryland law also says that a lack of supervision can be classified as elder abuse. This means nursing homes are responsible for effectively supervising their employees and patients.

Criminal Penalties Are Not the Only Remedy for Elder Abuse

Things like elder abuse and nursing home neglect are punishable in both the criminal and civil justice systems. No matter the outcome of a criminal case, you may be able to recover damages like the cost of treating your loved one after nursing home neglect and checking them into a new facility via a civil lawsuit. You have the right to hold negligent parties accountable for the financial costs of their actions.

A nursing home neglect and abuse lawyer can help you fight for damages. You should not have to pay the price for someone else’s abuse or neglect. If you believe your loved one has suffered financial damages after nursing home neglect or elder abuse, a lawyer from Brown & Barron would be glad to discuss your case.

Brown & Barron Holds Negligent and Abusive Nursing Homes Accountable

Brown & Barron is a Maryland law firm that helps nursing home abuse and neglect victims and their families get the compensation they deserve. The lawyers at our firm have nearly 140 years of combined trial experience. We’ve also collected more than $80 million in damages for our clients. We can help you fight to hold a negligent nursing home accountable for abuse and neglect.

We’re proud of our record, but we know it’s about more than money for our clients. We also want you to have your voice heard and help you hold negligent caregivers accountable. We offer free consultations because we genuinely want to hear from you. We also want to help. All you need to do is reach out to us.

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