Elderly and Vulnerable Adult Protection Act of 2019

Posted by Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard, PLLC on March 13, 2020

When you are helping your elderly loved ones prepare for the future, you may consider an in-home caregiver, nursing home or assisted living as part of your elder care plans. But those plans can seem unsafe and worrisome when you find that elder abuse, including neglect and exploitation, is experienced by 1 out of every 10 people, ages 60 and older, who live at home. When you are trying to keep your loved one out of a facility and in the comfort of their home, you hope the caregivers have their best interests in mind. But the reality is shocking. But the state of Tennessee has stepped up to this silent epidemic. In December, Tennessee enacted the Elderly and Vulnerable Adult Protection Act of 2019, effective in January 2020. What does this legislation entail for those found guilty of elder abuse?

Elderly and Vulnerable Adult Protection Act of 2019

The Elderly and Vulnerable Adult Protection Act of 2019 creates new criminal offenses for knowingly abusing, neglecting or sexually exploiting an elderly or vulnerable adult. Under this law, an offense is committed if the action results in serious psychological injury even if there is no serious physical injury.

According to the law:

  • lt is an offense for a person to knowingly abuse an elderly or vulnerable adult.
  • The offense of abuse of an elderly adult is a Class E felony.
  • However, abuse that causes serious physical harm, has been upgraded from a Class C to a class B felony.
  • The offense of abuse of a vulnerable adult is a Class D felony

According to Tennessee criminal law, a class B felony conviction can result in a prison sentence of eight to 30 years and a $25,000 fine. A class D felony is punishable by two to 12 years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $5,000.  A Class E felony, the least serious felonies in Tennessee, is punishable by one to six years in prison, as well as a fine of up to $3,000.

The law also expands on protection orders for the victims. It adds a conservator, agent or employee from the Commission on Aging and Disability, attorney ad litem and the victims themselves as persons who may petition the court for protection.

This legal change will hopefully continue to protect one of the most vulnerable sectors of our state.

If you suspect elder abuse of a loved one, you have options. You can report elder abuse in Tennessee by calling 1-888-APS-TENN (277-8366) or visiting https://ReportAdultAbuse.dhs.tn.gov.

Contact Our Nashville Elder Care Law Attorneys Today

The later years of a person’s life should not be filled with worry and stress. The Nashville elder care law attorneys at Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard are skilled in understanding the legal needs of our clients and their families.

We have served a wide number of communities in and around Williamson and Davidson Counties, including Bellevue and Brentwood. For more information on how we can help you with these difficult decisions, contact us today.

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