Abuse of a Vulnerable Adult in Prince William County
Adult protective services (APS) categorizes a vulnerable adult as a disabled individual who is 18 years or older or any individual who is over the age of 60. Similarly, the Virginia criminal code defines incapacitated adults as any person 18 years of age or older who is impaired by reason of mental illness, intellectual disability, physical illness, disability, advanced age, or other causes to the extent the adult lacks sufficient understanding or capacity to make, communicate, or carry out reasonable decisions concerning their own well-being.
A person charged with abuse of a vulnerable adult in Prince William County should contact an experienced lawyer at their earliest convenience after being charged. Such cases present complicated ramifications for the accused’s life, job, and living situation even before the first court date.
Elements of an Abuse Charge
The prosecution must show proof to demonstrate that a person should be convicted of criminal abuse of a vulnerable adult. The relevant statute defines the elements the must prove. ‘Abuse’ means knowing and willful conduct that causes injury or pain or a knowing and willful use of physical restraint for punishment or convenience. ‘Neglect’ means a knowing and willful failure by a responsible person to provide treatment, care, goods, or services, which results in injury or endangerment to an incapacitated adult.
The most common example of abuse of a vulnerable adult involves a failure to assist them with maintaining appropriate hygiene or nutrition. This is manifested by observable emaciation and symptoms like bed sores, which become infected.
Someone charged with abuse of a vulnerable adult in Prince William County may face serious criminal penalties. For a first offense that does not result in serious bodily injury or disease, the conviction is a Class 1 misdemeanor punishable by up to 12 months in jail and up to a $2,500 fine. For a second or subsequent offense, the conviction is a Class 6 felony punishable by up to five years in prison and up to a $2,500 fine. For a first offense which results in serious bodily injury or disease, the conviction is a Class 4 felony punishable by two to ten years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000. For a second or subsequent offense, the conviction is a Class 3 felony punishable by five to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.
There are many potential defenses to charges of abuse of a vulnerable adult in Prince William County. They range from technical defenses, such as disputing that the alleged victim even qualifies as a vulnerable or incapacitated adult, to factual defenses, such as disputing that the conduct by the accused legally constituted abuse or neglect under development circumstances. The vulnerable adult statute enumerates various defenses pertaining to the alleged victim’s consent, will, power of attorney, religious practices or preferences, and necessary regimen of medical care (among other things).
If you face domestic violence or abuse charges, consult with an attorney as soon as possible. They could provide valuable advice about your legal options and help you craft a defense.