Iowa will strengthen penalties for abusing Iovans who are 60 or older and create a new criminal charge of financial abuse under a bill now headed by Gov.
The law, a top priority of the AARP and other agencies that represent older Iowans, will increase criminal penalties for assault and theft against Iowans 60 or older.
It would also create a new criminal charge for “financial abuse of an older person” and additionally create new criminal penalties for “elder abuse”, a charge that included emotional abuse, neglect, alienation and sexual abuse of older Iovans. is included.
Iowa law currently includes the definition of elder misdemeanor but does not include criminal penalties. Under current law, Iovans who are victims of elder abuse can sue and ask courts to prevent the abuser from contacting them or exercising financial oversight or other forms of legal authority over them.
“What this bill does is it says to people who are looking for vulnerable victims: ‘Not here. You’re not going to do it here,'” said Rep. Dustin Height, R-New Sharon, the bill’s floor sponsor. . House.
The bill, Senate File 522, passed both chambers of the Iowa Legislature unanimously. With the Senate vote on Tuesday, she now turns to Reynolds for her signature.
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Bill changes criminal penalties for crimes against Old Evans
The Bill will establish the following criminal penalties for offenses against those who are 60 years of age and above:
Assault of an older person can range from a simple misdemeanor to up to 30 days in prison and a fine of $855, up to a Class D felony, up to five years in prison, and a fine of up to $10,245 – depending on the severity of the crime.
Theft against an older person, which increases the penalties for Iowa’s current theft charges to a degree.
Elder abuse, which ranges from a serious misdemeanor, is punishable by up to one year in prison and a $2,560 fine, to a Class C felony, up to 10 years in prison, and a fine of up to $13,660.
Financial exploitation of an older person, ranging from serious misconduct to a Class B felony, punishable by up to 25 years in prison, depending on the severity of the offence.
In both houses, Democrats joined Republicans in support, saying they would like to see additional protections for the older Iovans.
Rep. Mary Wolfe, D-Clinton, said she supported the bill because it filled some gaps in its ability to prosecute certain crimes. But he also said he is concerned that parts of the bill may not have the effect of increasing existing penalties for theft and assault, specifically against people over 60.
“I don’t think there is any evidence that increasing penalties in this way increases protections for elderly people,” she said during the floor debate in the House on March 23.
Haight said he believes the punishment for theft or assault should be harsher against older Iovans because “when someone takes the weakest of Iovans, they deserve harsh punishment.”
According to AARP Iowa, Iowa is one of the few states that does not have a criminal penalty for elder abuse.
Brad Anderson, state director of AARP Iowa, said in a statement, “The passage of this bill comes at a critical time when elder abuse is on the rise in Iowa and across the country, and we are grateful that vulnerable aged Iovans are now better equipped than elder abusers.” There will be security.” March 23 statement.
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How common is elder abuse?
According to AARP Iowa, the most commonly reported form of elder abuse is financial abuse, although it often accompanies other forms of emotional, physical or sexual abuse. Those who misbehave may be strangers or generally trusted people such as family members.
Iowa currently criminalizes abuse of dependent adults, but advocates say new penalties are needed to fill in the gaps that some older Iowans have left.
According to data from DHS, the Iowa Department of Human Services saw a 37% increase in reports of dependent adult abuse from the first half of 2020 to the second half of 2021.
According to the National Council on Aging, elder abuse affects one in 10 people age 60 and older, but is often not reported.
This article was originally published in the Des Moines Register: Iowa Legislature OKs Bill to Address Elder Abuse, Financial Exploitation