Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Pennsylvania Moves to Criminalize Abuse of Elders

The York Dispatch recently ran an article highlighting Pennsylvania's move towards criminalizing acts of elder abuse.  According to the news report, Pennsylvania is currently working on a bill that is proposed to address neglectful, abusive and harassing behavior by caretakers". Spearheaded by Rep. Gingrich of Lebanon County, 
the bill plans to amend the Crimes Code in several areas.  One will expand the definition of neglect to include an offense that results in death. Additionally, it adds a subsection addressing "intentionally or knowingly endangering the welfare of a care dependent person."  According to the article, these new offenses would result in a second-degree misdemeanor, which would mean up to two years in jail and/or a fine of up to $5,000.  If a person becomes a repeat offender, the charge would become a third-degree felony, resulting in up to 7 years in jail potentially paired with a fine of up to $15,000.

Additionally, this bill would also define "caretaker" to include those employed by residential facilities serving those with mental disabilities, as well as adult daily living centers, people who provide at-home care services, and family/friend caregivers.  Currently, the bill passed in the House unanimously and has since moved to the state Senate.  If the Senate also passes the bill, it will move to the governor to approve and become a law.

Attorney Doug Stoehr is a personal injury lawyer serving western and central Pennsylvania.  He takes cases for older Pennsylvanians who have been abused or neglected.  For more information on his Altoona, PA area practice, please call his office at 814-946-4100 or visit his website at http://www.stoehrlaw.com.  Attorney Stoehr takes cases in Blair and the seven surrounding counties.

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