Have you Been Charged with Neglect to a Disabled Adult, Elder Person, or Resident in Georgia?
Elder people are frequently abused or neglected due to their lack of ability to take care of themselves and sometimes mental incapacities. We hear about it all too often that disabled adults have been taken advantage of. Elder neglect involves failing to provide proper care for an individual who is considered to be a disabled adult or elder person. It can occur at their home or a nursing home or resident facility.
Georgia Law O.C.G.A. §16-5-101 reads as follows:
A guardian or other person supervising the welfare of or having immediate charge, control, or custody of a disabled adult, elder person, or resident commits the offense of neglect to a disabled adult, elder person, or resident when the person willfully deprives them of health care, shelter, or necessary sustenance to the extent that the health or well-being of such person is jeopardized.
However, there are a couple of individuals who cannot be accused of elder neglect in Georgia. This is to ensure that patients receive proper medical care plans and that they are not hindered by the law to do their job. The crime of elder neglect will not extend to:
- A physician working in a hospital, hospice, or long-term care facility
- Someone providing care in good faith according to their employment, such as a nurse
- A guardian acting in good faith in providing spiritual treatment alone instead of medical treatment as long as the patient has given written and notarized consent.
Georgia Case Law on Elder Neglect
A son was convicted of violating O.C.G.A. §16-5-101 by denying care to his mother. Bone v. State, 283 Ga. App. 323, (2005). The evidence showed that the mother was found to be in a very debilitated state of being by her neighbors. They came to check on her because she had asked them too. She reported that she could not get her son to help her. She had been denied food and water for a significant period and was forced to urinate in a bowl in the living room. She had been sitting in the same chair for three days. She was immediately admitted to the hospital and was found to have a severe infection in her leg and weighed only 71 pounds. If she had not been found by the neighbors, the infection would have progressed, and she could have died. The Court found sufficient evidence of elder neglect due to his withholding water, food, and disallowing her to use the phone. Furthermore, he did not take care of her infection on her leg and forced her to urinate in a bowl. Therefore, he was convicted of neglect to an elder person.
What Has to be Proven to Be Convicted
To be found guilty of neglect to a disabled adult, elder person, or resident in Georgia, the State must prove that the accused is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. This involves showing that the person willfully deprived the victim of either health care, shelter, or necessary sustenance so much that their health or well-being was affected.
Penalty for Neglect to a Disabled Adult, Elder Person, or Resident in Georgia
A conviction for this crime in Georgia carries the consequences of a felony conviction with the penalty being up to 20 years in prison and a fine of no more than $50,000.00 or both prison and a fine.
Neglect to a Disabled Adult, Elder Person, or Resident Defenses in Georgia
Exempted person under the statute: The statute allows for three types of people to be excused from criminal liability under this statute. If you fall under one of those categories, then you cannot be guilty of this crime.
No showing of willful deprivation: If the withholding was accidental or there was a reason behind your actions, that evidence needs to be discussed with a lawyer immediately. If there were a mistake or any evidence showing that the neglect was not intentional, that would be greatly beneficial to your case.
Refusal on behalf of the patient to take sustenance: Evidence that the defendant was not willfully depriving the patient but instead the patient was refusing services would help obtain a favorable outcome in your case.
What are Not Defenses
It was in the privacy of my home: The neglect does not have to occur in a nursing house. Even actions taken in your own home can be a crime.
The person was a family member. As seen in the case outlined above, it does not matter if the patient/victim is a family member of someone unrelated. The statute states that the person must be a disabled adult, elder person, or resident.
It is important to have a Georgia Criminal Defense Attorney represent you against an elder neglect charge. Contact our offices today to find out all the possible defenses for your case. Don't waste time because your future is at stake.