When white collar crime targets the elderly

Although state and federal governments alike take a hardline stance against white collar crimes, schemes targeting the elderly are particularly frowned upon. In fact, the National Center for State Courts encourages prosecutors to be creative when evaluating a case before charging an alleged offender.

This includes methods such as the following:

  • Searching for evidence of tax evasion
  • Seeking out elder-specific laws in California that may have been violated
  • Appealing to a jury’s sense of outrage through statements that emphasize a senior’s hardships or frail health

According to California statutes, seniors need more protection because of the prevalence of issues such as mental impairments, confusion and incompetence, as well as other common physical health problems. Penal code section 368(d) states that there are penalties for a person who is not the caretaker and knows or should know that the victim is a senior. Activities include:

  • Embezzlement
  • Theft
  • Forgery
  • Fraud
  • Identity theft

The value of what is allegedly taken from the senior, which could be actual money or payment for a service, product or property, may be less than $950 and still result in a harsh sentence. The fine could be set at up to $1,000, and a person could face a term of up to one year in a county jail in addition to or instead of the fine.

When the value is more than $950, the fines may go up as high as $2,500 and may include time in the county jail of up to one year, or the penalty may be just the fine or just the imprisonment.

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