Seniors Enjoy More Protections Under Albany’s Proposed Law
Legislators have proposed stronger safeguards against New York elder abuse in recently proposed legislation in Albany, New York.
Seniors vulnerable to various forms of abuse, primarily financial and physical, could now enjoy greater protections under the law, thanks to bills proposed by Sens. David Valesky (D-Oneida) and Michael Nozzolio (R-Fayette).
Proposed New York elder abuse laws
The proposals contain measures that would make it easier for banks to deny transactions to those they suspect of elder abuse. The proposals would also give prosecutors broader powers to prosecute perpetrators in these cases. One such power would let elderly people now testify in criminal cases; another would expand the definition of “caregiver” to apply to more people who exploit vulnerably seniors; a third would let prosecutors obtain medical records without having to scale as many bureaucratic hurdles.
Other provisions in the bills include a one-stop hub for reporting elder abuse, so that incidents of financial, emotional or physical abuse no longer have to make their way through a maze of various health, social services and law enforcement agencies. This centralization would allow for smoother, better organized, and more efficient processing (and prosecution) of cases of elder abuse.
Elder abuse prevalence in New York and elsewhere
In New York, data shows that 3 out of every 1,000 New York seniors suffer some form of abuse (financial, emotional or physical). A study by Cornell University suggests that this estimate is actually quite conservative, and that the rate of abuse, when both self-reported cases and information from agencies serving seniors are included, is actually much higher—76 out of 1,000, by the Cornell study’s findings. In 90 percent of these cases, a family member has perpetrated the abuse.
Nationwide, elder abuse also appears relatively common and usually goes unprosecuted, according to the Washington, D.C.-based National Center on Elder Abuse:
- Between 1 and 2 million Americans age 65 or older have been injured, exploited or mistreated by someone on whom they depended for care or protection.
- Only 1 in 14 incidents of elder abuse, excluding incidents of self-neglect, come to the attention of authorities. With respect to financial abuse, the frequency of reporting drops even lower, to only 1 in 25 cases, with the implication that there may be as many as 5 million elderly victims of financial abuse each year.
Here are the bills’ measures in greater detail:
- S.6221 (Sen. David Valesky, D-Oneida) gives banks leeway to refuse any transaction if the banking institution, social services official, or law enforcement agency reasonably suspects financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult is at play.
- S.2323-A (Sen. Jeff Klein, D-Bronx) requires the Office of Children and Family Services to locate and manage data related to the incidence of elder abuse possessed by state and local agencies. It also demands that the Office of Children and Family Services form an inter-agency reporting system that contains standardized means of collecting and analyzing information on the incidence of elder abuse.
- S.7179 (Valesky) would let a prosecutor obtain medical records, without a privilege waiver, with a subpoena, endorsed by the court, based upon evidence that the patient suffers from a mental disability, and that the patient has been a victim of a crime.
- S.7177 (Sen. Patrick Gallivan, R-Elma) strips an alleged abuser of the defense of obtained consent to take, withhold, or obtain property, where such consent was obtained from a person who the accused knew or had reason to know was mentally disabled.
- S.7187 (Sen. Michael Nozzolio, R-Fayette) changes the penal law to state clearly that in a prosecution for larceny by false promise, partial performance does not, by itself, prevent a reasonable jury from making such finding from all the facts and circumstances.
- S.2951 (Valesky) expands the definition of “caregiver” under the penal law to include a person who voluntarily, or otherwise by operation of law, (such as an appointed guardian or power of attorney) assumes responsibility of an elderly person so that they would be tried under the “endangering the welfare of a vulnerable elderly person” law.
- S.7188 (Nozzolio) would ensure that a caregiver can accompany a vulnerable elderly person who is testifying in front of a grand jury (with the consent of the prosecutor).
- S.7178 (Gallivan) allows the prosecution and defense attorneys to preserve the testimony of witnesses who are age 75 or older.
New York elder abuse lawyers
When you or someone you love has been injured or exploited by elder abuse—or, if you suspect elder abuse—there is legal recourse. For more than 45 years, Sanders Grossman attorneys have been fighting successfully on behalf of vulnerable populations in the greater New York area, and we have the legal resources and expertise to help you win the compensation you deserve in the form of medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering.
- Syracuse.com, “Elder abuse: Central New York lawmakers propose bills to protect seniors,” https://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2014/05/elder_abuse_new_york_laws_albany_david_valesky_michael_nozzolio.html
- Center on Elder Abuse, Fact Sheet, https://www.ncea.aoa.gov/Resources/Publication/docs/FinalStatistics050331.pdf