Injury cases where the “victim” is a child, elderly individual, or a disabled individual are treated a bit differently than simple assault cases. There are a number of subtle nuances which impact the severity of the allegation, and provide possible defenses, of an elderly assault case. Obviously, reasonable discipline is not going to be prosecuted; however, if you cause serious bodily injury while discipling a child, then you will face potential criminal charges.
Because we are dealing with specific classes of individuals as the potential “victim” it is important to understand what those terms mean.
- Child – a person 14 years of age or younger;
- Elderly Individual – a person 65 years or older;
- Disabled Individual – suffers from autism spectrum disorder; developmental disability; intellectual disability, severe emotional disturbance, traumatic brain injury or mental illness – as those terms are defined by various statutes, or who otherwise by age, or physical or mental disease, defect, or injury is substantially unable to protect the person’s self from harm.
What makes these cases different is not only are you prosecuted for actively causing injury to a person that falls into one of these three categories, but you can also be prosecuted for your acts of omission that result in injury.
As the statute puts it, if you intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, or with criminal negligence, by act or intentionally, knowingly, or reckless by omission causes to a child, elderly individual or disabled individual:
- Serious bodily injury;
- Serious mental deficiency, impairment or injury; or
- Bodily injury – you committed an offense.
Similarly, owners, operators, or employees of group homes, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, boarding home facilities, intermediate care facility for persons with intellectual or developmental disabilities, or other institutional care facilities can face charges as well.
An omission that causes one of the three outcomes above becomes an offense if:
- The actor has a legal or statutory duty to act; or,
- The actor assumed care, custody, or control of a child, elderly or disabled individual.
As if all of those definitions were not enough to confuse someone, including lawyers, the severity of the crime becomes even more convoluted as mental state and nature of injury play a significant role in deciding if you are facing a First Degree Felony (5-99 years), or a State Jail Felony (180 days – 2 years).
If you knowingly or intentionally cause serious bodily injury or serious mental deficiency, impairment or injury, you face a First Degree Felony (5-99 years) charge. If your conduct is reckless, then it is a Second Degree Felony (2-10 years).
If you intentionally or knowingly cause bodily injury, it is a Third Degree Felony (2-10 years), however, if the person is residing at an intermediate care facility for individuals with intellectual disabilities, and you work at that facility, it is a Second Degree Felony (2-20 years).
However, if you were merely criminally negligent, and your actions caused serious bodily injury, serious mental deficiency, impairment or injury, or bodily injury, it s a state jail felony (180 days to 2 years).
The statue also provides a list of defenses to allegations under this statue that deal with notice, reasonable emergency medical care, and age difference.
Because of the complexities when dealing with a assaultive type crime where the “victim” is a child, an elderly individual, or a disabled individual, it is extremely important to have an experienced attorney to guide you. Elderly assault cases are complicated, so it is important to gain the legal help you need.
To contact us or schedule a free consultation, click here.