What You Need to Know About Florida Elder Abuse Law

Elder Abuse Laws are in place to protect the elderly from financial, verbal, and physical abuse. Learn about this law and how to protect elders.

What Are the Elder Abuse Laws in Florida?


Elder abuse occurs when a senior citizen is subjected to physical, mental, or sexual mistreatment; when a senior is neglected or abandoned; or when a senior is exploited for financial or material gain. Even self-neglect, in which an elderly individual fails to complete necessary self-care duties, may be considered elder abuse to present a case to adult protective services.

Elder abuse can have various physical and emotional consequences for an older adult. Victims are terrified and worried. They may have trust issues and end up being distrustful of all people. Many victims are physically harmed. Some are minor in nature, such as cuts, scratches, bruises, and welts. Others are more dangerous and can result in long-term disability.

Head traumas, shattered bones, and chronic bodily discomfort and soreness are examples of these. A disabled adult’s physical injuries can also result in early mortality and exacerbate pre-existing health conditions. Contact an elder law attorney to help you with your elder abuse situation.

At Lehn Law, we practice elder law (social security disability, guardianship, Medicaid planning, nursing home abuse) and estate planning (trust administration, wills & trusts). If you or an elderly person you know is a victim of elder abuse, do not hesitate to contact us at 941-255-5346 (Port Charlotte), or 941-487-7100 (Sarasota) for a free consultation on your case.

What Constitutes Elder Abuse?


Elder abuse is defined as either a purposeful act that increases the risk of damage to an elderly person or a failure to act in helping that person or disabled adult. According to the law, people above the age of 60 are defined as older adults. Here are some examples of often encountered forms of elder abuse:

  • Physical abuse occurs when an older person suffers disease, suffering, damage, functional impairment, distress, or death due to the purposeful use of coercive power, which includes striking, kicking, shoving, slapping, and burning.

  • Sexual abuse is defined as coerced or unwanted sexual encounter with an older adult. Unwanted sexual contact or penetration and non-contact activities such as sexual harassment are examples.

  • Emotional or psychological abuse refers to verbal or nonverbal activities that cause an older adult sorrow, mental agony, fear, or anxiety. Humbling or disrespect, verbal and nonverbal threats, harassment, and geographical or interpersonal isolation are all examples.

  • Neglect is defined as failing to address an older person’s fundamental requirements. Food, water, shelter, clothes, cleanliness, and primary medical care are among these needs.

  • Financial Abuse is defined as the unlawful, unauthorized, or inappropriate use of an elderly person’s money, benefits, possessions, property, or assets for the advantage of someone other than the older adult.

  • In many states across the U.S., you can anonymously report elder abuse. Under Florida law, you must report suspected abuse, neglect, self-neglect, or exploitation of vulnerable adults, both elderly and disabled.

How to Report Elder Abuse


Neglect is defined as a caregiver’s failure to provide goods or services, including medical treatments, that are required to avert physical or psychological injury or discomfort.

Exploitation is the illicit exploitation of a senior’s resources by a caregiver for monetary or emotional benefit, profit, or gain. Seniors may require financial assistance, but until they relinquish authority to another person, they have the same right as everyone else to receive, spend, invest, save, or give money away. Without the senior’s approval, a family member, “friend,” or nursing facility may not assume possession of their money.

Do not keep silent if you are mistreated or believe that someone else is being abused. If you become aware of an act of aggravated abuse, neglect, or exploitation, you have a legal obligation to report it.

Types of Elder Abuse

There are many distinct types of physical and emotional abuse. If you or someone you know is being abused physically or mentally and is in urgent danger, call 9-1-1 or your local law enforcement agency.

A variety of characteristics can raise or lessen the likelihood of perpetrating and/or experiencing elder abuse. To prevent elder abuse, we must first recognize and address the elements that put people at risk of violence or protect them from it.

  • Listen to elderly persons and their caregivers to grasp their issues and provide assistance.
  • You should report any abuse or suspicion of abuse to your local adult protective services, long-term care ombudsman, or police.
  • Inform yourself and others on how to spot and report elder abuse.
  • Learn how the symptoms of elder abuse differ from those of normal aging.
  • Check in with elderly people who may have few acquaintances or family members.
  • Provide assistance to overburdened careers, such as assistance from friends, family, or local relief care organizations; adult day care programs; counseling; and outlets to improve the vulnerable adult’s physical and mental health.
  • Encourage and help people (either caregivers or older individuals) struggling with drug or alcohol misuse to seek treatment.

How to Prove Elder Abuse in Florida


Financial abuse of the elderly encompasses a wide range of acts, from robbery to “borrowing” goods from elderly people with the goal of keeping them due to the subject’s poor memory or lack of will or capacity to return it. It can also happen if someone employs undue compulsion or influence to persuade an older person to modify their will or transfer over the property.

Friends, family members, and even service providers such as nursing facility personnel, caretakers, attorneys, and accountants are all intent on committing financial elder abuse. Outsiders may try to act friendly with an old person to obtain access to their possessions.

In Florida, anybody in a position of confidence or trust in an older person is required to prioritize the elder’s needs and not use or gain the elder’s assets for their own or perhaps someone else’s reasons. The legal ramifications of breaking Florida’s elder exploitation statutes are harsh, including attorney’s costs, treble damages, and punitive penalties. An experienced elder law attorney might help you with legal advice.

What Is the Penalty for Elder Abuse in Florida?


The penalties for elder abuse in Florida vary from $10,000 to $50,000, or more. Here is what you need to know about elder abuse penalties:


What Are the Penalties for Exploitation of an Elderly or Disabled Adult for Less than $10,000?

In Florida, the offense of Exploitation of an Elderly Person or Disabled Adults for less than $10,000 is a Third Degree Felony punishable by up to five years in jail, five years of probation, and a $5,000 fine.

Under Florida’s Criminal Punishment Code, exploitation of an elderly person or disabled adults for less than $10,000 is classified as a Level 6 crime. A person guilty of Exploiting an Elderly Person or Disabled Adult for less than $10,000 may be sentenced to probation, but they may potentially be sentenced to up to five years in jail.

What are the Penalties for Exploitation of an Elderly or Disabled Adult for $10,000 to $50,000?

In Florida, the offense of $10,000 to $50,000 Exploitation of an Elderly Person or Disabled Adult is a Second Degree Felony punishable by up to fifteen years in prison, fifteen years of probation, and a $10,000 fine.

The exploitation of an Elderly Person or Disabled Adult for $10,000 to $50,000 is classified as a Level 7 felony under Florida’s Criminal Punishment Code. In the absence of grounds for a downward departure sentence, a judge must sentence a person convicted of Exploitation of an Elderly Person or Disabled Adult in the amount of $10,000 to $50,000 to a minimum sentence of 21 months in prison and might sentence the individual to up to the legislated maximum of 15 years in prison.


What are the Penalties for Exploitation of an Elderly or Disabled Adult for $50,000 or more?

In Florida, the offense of Exploitation of an Elderly Person or Disabled Adult for $50,000 or more is a First Degree Felony punishable by up to thirty years in prison, thirty years on probation, and a $10,000 fine. Eldercare lawyers help ensure that your claim receives the time and attention it deserves.

Contact Lehn Law at 941-255-5346 (Port Charlotte), or 941-487-7100 (Sarasota) for a free consultation on your case.

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