Financial Abuse Of The Elderly key terms: financial abuse, guardian abuse, elderly abuse, exploitation of the elderly, elder abuse
~TRAINING MATERIAL ~
~ HISTORY OF FLORIDA’S EXPLOITATION LAW ~
Throughout the 1980’s the state of Florida had an exploitation statute that was only a first-degree misdemeanor and used very rarely by law enforcement. In October 1989 the financial exploitation statute was upgraded to a third degree felony but was used primarily by Adult Protective Services as the investigative guideline for their classification of complaints received from the state’s central hotline number.
Felony exploitation arrests began in 1990 and a gradual increase in prosecutions occurred until June of 1994 when the Florida Supreme Court found the exploitation statute to be “unconstitutionally vague.” For one full year after the Supreme Court’s actions there was no exploitation law. Law-enforcement agents and prosecutors were forced to rely on the grand theft statute which did not specifically recognize elderly victims who do not have the capacity to give consent or are dependant due to other disabilities. Grand theft requires that the victim’s property be taken without his or her consent, so how can exploitation victims without capacity be expected to testify.
Finally, after much work between prosecutors, law-enforcement officers and other government agencies, a new exploitation bill was prepared for legislators and in July 1995 the new exploitation law was passed. Today this law is known as Florida Statute 825.103: Exploitation Of An Elderly Person or Disabled Adult.
Important Points When Citing Exploitation
1.The Infirmity of the Elderly Victim Will Play a Role in the Theft Committed Against Them
For an exploitation charge to apply the elderly victim must suffer a disability that contributes to the theft.
2.The Victim Does Not Have To Prosecute.
When a victim does not have capacity to give consent, lack of consent and prosecution are assumed.
3.No Minimum Amount Required For Felony Exploitation.
An exploitation crime involving just 10$ is a felony.
4.Documents Don’t Make it Civil.
When a responding officer does not recognize an exploitation crime they make a common mistake of classifying the crime as a civil matter because the incapacitated victim signed legal documents transferring assets.
5.Do Not Use Word “Incompetent” When Reporting.
The dictionary defines incompetent as “not qualified.” The word is obscure and open to a wide variety of interpretation. The defense can also question the officer’s qualifications to make such a statement. Rather, the officer can quote in the police report the victim’s statements that indicate the victim’s lack of capacity to give consent.
6.Don’t Ignore an Exploitation Complaint.
No “squeaky wheels” here. The disabled are silent victims and you are probably their last hope to stop the victimization.
Typical Victim Profile
a.Victim Suffers Memory Loss.
Because of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s Disease, Organic Brain Syndrome and other degenerative brain diseases the victim will suffer memory loss.
b.Victim is Isolated and Lonely.
The victim is often living alone with no relatives providing oversight or living in the area. The victim will easily become dependant on a stranger for this reason.
c.Victim is Unaware of Theft.
The victim is often unaware of theft due to mental infirmities or isolation of physical infirmities.
d.Victim Feels Responsible.
When a victim does become aware of a theft they often feel responsible, guilty and embarrassed for allowing the theft to occur.
e.Victim Will Not Prosecute.
Because they feel responsible and/or threatened, a victim often will not want to prosecute when they are aware of their victimization. The state will still prosecute in cases involving victims who do not have capacity to give consent..
f.Victim Doesn’t Know His or Her Assets.
Victims without capacity will be unable to give an account of their assets. The victim may know that they own there home and have bank accounts but they will be unable to identify their banks, accounts or balances. It will be common for these victims to state that they have “hundreds of dollars” in their accounts when in fact they have thousands or millions.
g.Victim Wants Restitution.
Although elderly disabled victims often do not want to prosecute and may not be aware of the extent of their assets, remarkably they will still indicate that they want their assets returned. eg…. When you ask an elder who suffers acute short term memory loss if they would like the home they signed away returned, they will be adamant about having it returned.
h.Victim is Dependant on Suspect.
Because the victim may be emotionally attached and is often physically dependant on a caregiver or “good Samaritan,” it is essential to have the assistance of Adult Protective Services during a criminal investigation. The abrupt removal of the exploiter (deserving arrest) from the victim’s environment could leave the victim abandoned and helpless.
A will is an effective legal tool for providing explicit instructions on how property should be distributed and/or used after a person dies. In most cases, a will also minimizes death taxes and legal and probate expenses, and enables the individual to name an executor to be responsible for carrying out the will’s instructions.
A trust involves the transfer of a property to a trustee, who then invests and manages it for the benefit of the trust’s beneficiaries.
This property transfer does not constitute a sale. The beneficiaries are selected by the grantor—the person creating the trust. A trustee can be a family member, friend, bank, or trust company.
POWER OF ATTORNEY
Power of Attorney is a legal device which permits an individual (the “principal”) to give another person (the “attorney-in-fact”) the authority to act on the principal’s behalf. The attorney-in-fact is authorized to handle banking and real estate, to incur expenses, pay bills, and handle a wide variety of legal affairs.
Power of attorney is valid for a stated period of time--- that is, for as long as the principal is mentally competent. If the principle dies, or becomes comatose or mentally incompetent, the power of attorney expires immediately.
DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY
A Durable Power of Attorney is assigned and operates just like a power of attorney, except this authorization remains valid after the principal becomes comatose or mentally incompetent. Every state now has statutes recognizing durable power of attorney. A durable power of attorney can make health care decisions on behalf of the principal if he/she becomes incompetent.
Guardianship is a legal mechanism used by the court to declare a person incompetent and appoint a guardian to that person. The court transfers responsibility for managing financial affairs, living arrangements, and medical care decisions to the guardian. Every state has different laws regarding guardianship. A guardianship can either be partial or plenary (total).
elderly abuse copyright by joe roubicek 2010 Coral Springs elderly abuse
Joe Roubicek has investigated over a thousand exploitation of the elderly crimes over the past 25 years, primarily during his 20 year career with the Fort Lauderdale Police Department. Throughout his career he has testified in numerous criminal trials and depositions. He also testified in the 1990’s as an expert in related probate hearings.
In 1994 Joe testified before the Florida House and Senate to improve laws designed to protect the elderly and he contributed to the writing of Florida Statute 825.103: Exploitation of an Elderly Person or Disabled Adult.
Joe also contributed directly to statewide training of law enforcement officers and APS investigators through the accredited Florida Department of Law Enforcement 40 hour advanced course and the University of Miami, 40 hour certified officer training curriculum.
Joe has lectured or provided training for the University of Miami, Stetson University, the Florida Attorney General’s Office, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Metropolitan Police Institute, and numerous law enforcement agencies since 1992.
Joe wrote a police training manual published in 1993 that was used throughout the state by police and social workers. He recently published the book, “Financial Abuse of the Elderly; A Detective’s Case Files of Exploitation Crimes,” to educate the public. This book is also used as a class textbook for college criminal justice courses.
Financial Abuse of the Elderly; A Detective’s Case Files of Exploitation Crimes, 2008
How To Investigate Financial Exploitation of the Elderly; A Guide For Police, 1993
Training, Public Speaking, Presentations
Training Curriculums co-authored
Elder Abuse Neglect and Exploitation
Certified Officer Training Curriculum
Fl. Dept of Elder Affairs/ University of Miami
Elder Abuse and Exploitation
Florida Dept of Law Enforcement
Advanced law enforcement 40 hr accredited training module
Public Speaking, Training, Related Commendations
Foundation for Florida’s Future
Chairman, Governor Jeb Bush
Florida Department of Elder Affairs
Secretary of Elder Affairs, E. Bentley Lipscomb
Governor’s Elder Abuse Prevention Task Force
Secretary E. Bentley Lipscomb
Stetson College of Law
University of Miami, Center on Aging and Disabilities
Director Patricia A. Bloom
Delray Beach Police Department
Florida Office of the Attorney General
Dept of Legal Affairs
Florida Office of the Comptroller, Dept of Banking Finance
Director Anthony Armbrister
Davie Police Department
Area Agency on Agingof Palm Beach, Treasure Coast
Executive Director Cathy D’Heron
Center For Applied Gerontology
Director Samuel Bartow Strang
Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office
State Attorney, 17th Judicial Circuit Elderly Task Force
Seminole County Sheriff’s Office
Broward County Sheriff’s Office
Florida Crime Prevention Training Institute
George Sunderland, Manager, Criminal Justice Services
The Metropolitan Police Institute, Dade County, Florida
Director Louise Rogers
Miami-Dade School of Justice and Safety Administration
City College, Broward County
St Petersburg Community College Police Institute