In recent years, the population of older adults in the United States has increased dramatically. In fact, experts predict that by the year 2050, the population of older adults (age 65 and older) will surpass the population of their younger counterparts (age 21 and younger) for the first time in history. Unfortunately, along with the population growth we have also seen an increase in incidences of elder abuse. The good news is that many states across the nation have enacted criminal laws making elder abuse a crime. A Minot elder law attorney at German Law discusses elder abuse criminal statutes and penalties in North Dakota.
How Often Does Elder Abuse Occur?
Elder abuse is hardly a new problem in the United States; however, it is a problem that both legislators and law enforcement agencies are seriously addressing for the first time. The frequency with which elder abuse occurs is difficult to ascertain, due in large part to the fact that victims of elder abuse are often reluctant to come forward, either because they are ashamed to be a victim or out of fear of reprisals from the abuser. Experts, however, have offered the following conservative estimates:
- Experts believe more than one in 10 seniors will be the victim of elder abuse
- Each year, there are over 5 million instances of financial exploitation with a senior victim
- For every instance of elder abuse reports, as many as 14 go unreported.
- 1 in 20 older adults indicating some form of perceived financial mistreatment occurring in the recent past
- Only 30% of victims of elder sexual abuse report it to authorities
- In almost 60% of elder abuse and neglect incidents, the perpetrator is a family member. Two-thirds of perpetrators are adult children or spouses.
- More than 40% of nursing home residents have reported abuse, and more than 90% report that they or another resident of the facility have been neglected;
- Research from 2010 indicates that up to half of all nursing home attendants have admitted to abusing or neglecting elderly patients;
- The most recent studies indicate that 7-10 percent of the elderly suffered from at least one episode of abuse within the past year.
Elder Abuse Criminal Statute
Until fairly recently, elder abuse was covered under a variety of broad abuse or fraud statutes in most states. North Dakota, however, is one of many states that has enacted a specific criminal statute to cover financial abuse involving an elderly victim. 12.1-31-07.1 “Exploitation of an Eligible Adult” makes financial exploitation of a senior a felony offense if the amount in question is over $1,000 in North Dakota, reading in pertinent part as follows:
- A person is guilty of exploitation of an eligible adult if:
- The person stands in a position of trust and confidence or has a business relationship with the eligible adult and knowingly, by deception, intimidation, or undue influence, obtains or uses, or attempts to obtain or use, the eligible adult’s funds, assets, or property with the intent to temporarily or permanently deprive the eligible adult of the use, benefit, or possession of the property, for the benefit of someone other than the eligible adult; or
- The person knows the eligible adult lacks the capacity to consent, and obtains or uses, or attempts to obtain or use, or assists another in obtaining or using or attempting to obtain or use, the eligible adult’s funds, assets, or property with the intent to temporarily or permanently deprive the eligible adult of the use, benefit, or possession of the property for the benefit of someone other than the eligible adult.
- Exploitation of an eligible adult is:
- A class A felony if the value of the exploited funds, assets, or property exceeds fifty thousand dollars.
- A class B felony if the value of the exploited funds, assets, or property exceeds ten thousand dollars but does not exceed fifty thousand dollars.
- A class C felony if the value of the exploited funds, assets, or property is in excess of one thousand dollars but does not exceed ten thousand dollars.
- A class A misdemeanor if the value of the exploited funds, assets, or property does not exceed one thousand dollars.
Contact Minot Elder Law Attorneys
Please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions or concerns about elder abuse in North Dakota, contact the Minot elder law attorneys at German Law by calling 701-738-0060 to schedule an appointment.