Does the Domestic Violence Act Apply to the Elderly?

By Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. of Hanlon Niemann & Wright, a Freehold, NJ Elder Abuse Law Attorney

The N.J. Prevention of Domestic Violence Act specifically states that the elderly are a protected class. In relevant part the law states;

“The Legislature further finds and declares that the health and welfare of some of its most vulnerable citizens, the elderly and disabled, are at risk because of incidents of reported and unreported domestic violence, abuse and neglect which are known to include acts which victimize the elderly and disabled emotionally, psychologically, physically and financially; because of age, disabilities or infirmities, this group of citizens frequently must rely on the aid and support of others; while the institutionalized elderly are protected under P.L. 1977, c. 239 (C. 52:27G-1 et seq.), elderly and disabled adults in noninstitutionalized or community settings may find themselves victimized by family members or others upon whom they feel compelled to depend.”

The Legislature also determined that violence against the elderly and disabled, including criminal neglect of the elderly and disabled under N.J.S.A. 2C:24 must be recognized and addressed on an equal basis as violence against spouses and children in order to fulfill the state’s responsibility as a society to protect those who are less able to protect themselves.

Let me address the criminal neglect language of the law N.J.S.A. 2C:25-18, specifically the crime of “Endangering the welfare of the elderly or disabled,” found at N.J.S.A. 2C:24-8. The law states “A person having a legal duty to care for or who has assumed continuing responsibility for the care of a person 60 years of age or older or a disabled adult, who abandons the elderly person or disabled adult or unreasonably neglects to do or fails to permit to be done any act necessary for the physical or mental health of the elderly person or disabled adult, is guilty of a crime of the third degree. For purposes of this law “abandon” means the willful desertion or forsaking of an elderly person or disabled adult.”

In my next post I’ll further explore this very interesting law as it relates to elder abuse.

To discuss your NJ Elder Abuse matter, please contact Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. toll-free at (855) 376-5291 or email him at fniemann@hnlawfirm.com.  Please ask us about our video conferencing consultations if you are unable to come to our office.