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Prosecuting Elder Abuse Cases

NCJ Number
229884
Date Published
April 2010
Author(s)
Sarah B. Berson
Agencies
NIJ
Publication Series
Publication Type
Legislation/Policy Analysis
Annotation
This article provides an overview of State laws that pertain to elder abuse and identifies the factors that improve or impede the successful prosecution of such cases.
Abstract
Although all States have some form of legislation that addresses elder abuse, these laws and the definitions of elder abuse itself vary from State to State. Some States have laws that create and govern State adult protective services (APS) units, which are charged with providing services to vulnerable adults. There are also reporting laws that promote or require certain occupational groups to report suspected types of elder abuse to a government agency; and there are laws that prohibit certain types of elder abuse. Regarding the prosecution of such cases, the American Bar Association recommends creating special elder abuse units or special prosecutors. It also recommends training prosecutors on the kind of crimes committed against the elderly; improving victims aid services; educating the public and professionals about elder abuse; and establishing multidisciplinary teams to pursue the detection, investigation, and prosecution of such cases. The National District Attorneys Association policy position on elder abuse also promotes a multidisciplinary approach to such cases. This involves providing special training in the characteristics of elder abuse cases, detection and investigation methods, and how they should be prosecuted. These specially trained team members should be from multiple agencies and organizations in the community. One factor that might impede the prosecution of elder abuse cases is the complexity of such cases, since they often involve complicated medical and financial elements and concerns about victim competency. Elderly victims might also have other special needs and impairments and may lack jury appeal. Police and prosecutors must be trained in the research and methods for addressing the complex issues of elder abuse cases and how they can be effectively addressed. 11 notes
Date Created: February 29, 2012