Missouri lawmakers are set to join legislators in states such as New Jersey and Alabama that have strengthened state elder abuse protections this year. The Missouri house and senate recently approved a bill that would make financial elder abuse by those in a position of influence over an elderly person a Class B felony in the state, a crime that has a potential prison sentence of between 5 and 15 years.
The proposed legislation, if signed into law by the governor, would make it a crime for anyone in a position of influence to financially exploit an elderly person by taking advantage of his or her vulnerabilities. Anyone who has been appointed as a guardian, who has power of attorney, or who occupies any position of influence who uses that influence to financially benefit his or her own interests is guilty of elder abuse. Previously, Missouri’s elder abuse laws only punished physical harm someone commits against a person aged 60 or older as a felony.
Part of the law also allows a judge to order anyone convicted of financial elder abuse to pay restitution. If the elderly person suffered financial abuse that resulted in his or her failure to pay a nursing home facility, the judge can order the person convicted of abuse to pay that facility as part of a sentence or as a condition of probation.