Caregiver Neglect Laws
Financial Exploitation Laws
Physical Abuse Laws
Sexual Abuse/Assault Laws
Crimes Against a Vulnerable Adult
(a) Any person who commits, or attempts to commit, any of the crimes or offenses set forth in subsection (f) of this section against a person who is a vulnerable adult is guilty of a crime against a vulnerable adult.
(b) A crime against a vulnerable adult shall be punished as follows:
(1) If the underlying offense is an unclassified misdemeanor, or a class B misdemeanor, the crime against a vulnerable adult shall be a class A misdemeanor;
(2) If the underlying offense is a class A misdemeanor, the crime against a vulnerable adult shall be a class G felony;
(3) If the underlying offense is a class D, E, F, or G felony, the crime against a vulnerable adult shall be 1 class higher than the underlying offense.
(c) ”Vulnerable adult” means a person 18 years of age or older who, by reason of isolation, sickness, debilitation, mental illness or physical, mental or cognitive disability, is easily susceptible to abuse, neglect, mistreatment, intimidation, manipulation, coercion or exploitation. Without limitation, the term “vulnerable adult” includes any adult for whom a guardian or the person or property has been appointed.
(d) Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, it is no defense to an offense or sentencing provision set forth in this section that the accused did not know that the victim was a vulnerable adult or that the accused reasonably believed the person was not a vulnerable adult unless the statute defining the underlying offense, or a related statute, expressly provides that knowledge that the victim is a vulnerable adult is a defense.
(e) No person shall be sentenced for both an underlying offense and a crime against a vulnerable adult. No person shall be sentenced for a violation of subsection (a) of this section if the underlying offense, as charged against the accused, has an element that the victim was 62 years of age or older or was an “adult who is impaired” as defined in § 3902 of Title 31.
(f) The following shall be underlying offenses for the purposes of this section:
§ 601 Offensive touching
§ 602(a) Menacing
§ 602(b) Aggravated Menacing
§ 603 Reckless endangering in the second degree
§ 604 Reckless endangering in the first degree
§ 605 Abuse of a pregnant female in the second degree
§ 606 Abuse of a pregnant female in the first degree
§ 611 Assault in the third degree
§ 612 Assault in the second degree
§ 621 Terroristic threatening
§ 622 Hoax device
§ 625 Unlawfully administering drugs
§ 626 Unlawfully administering controlled substance or counterfeit substance or narcotic drugs
§ 645 Promoting suicide
§ 763 Sexual harassment
§ 764 Indecent exposure in the second degree
§ 766 Incest
§ 767 Unlawful sexual contact in the third degree
§ 769 Unlawful sexual contact in the first degree
§ 770 Rape in the fourth degree
§ 774 Sexual extortion
§ 780 Female genital mutilation
§ 781 Unlawful imprisonment in the second degree
§ 782 Unlawful imprisonment in the first degree
§ 783 Kidnapping in the second degree
§ 791 Acts constituting coercion
§ 811 Criminal mischief
§ 825 Burglary in the second degree
§ 831 Robbery in the second degree
§ 835 Carjacking in the second degree
§ 841 Theft, except paragraph (c)(3)b.
§ 841A Theft of a motor vehicle
§ 842 Theft; lost or mislaid property
§ 843 Theft; false pretense
§ 844 Theft; false promise
§ 846 Extortion
§ 848 Misapplication of property
§ 853 Unauthorized use of a vehicle
§ 854 Identity theft
§ 861 Forgery
§ 903 Unlawful use of payment card
§ 909 Securing execution of documents by deception
§ 914 Use of consumer identification information
§ 916 Home improvement fraud
§ 917 New home construction fraud, except paragraph (d)(3)
§ 1001 Bigamy
§ 1311 Harassment
§ 1312 Stalking, except paragraphs (d)(1) and (d)(2)
§ 1335 Violation of privacy
§ 1339 Adulteration
§ 1451 Theft of a firearm
§ 73-604 Securities fraud.
As used in this chapter:
(1) ”Abuse” means:
a. Physical abuse by unnecessarily inflicting pain or injury on an adult who is impaired; or
b. A pattern of emotional abuse, which includes, but is not limited to, ridiculing or demeaning an adult who is impaired making derogatory remarks to an adult who is impaired or cursing or threatening to inflict physical or emotional harm on an adult who is impaired.
(2) ”Adult who is impaired” shall mean any person 18 years of age or over who, because of physical or mental disability, is substantially impaired in the ability to provide adequately for the person’s own care and custody.
(3) ”Caregiver” means any adult who has assumed the permanent or temporary care, custody or responsibility for the supervision of an adult who is impaired.
(4) ”Court” means the Court of Chancery of the State.
(5) ”Department” means the Department of Health and Social Services of the State.
(6) ”Elderly person” has the same meaning as defined in § 222 of Title 11.
(7) ”Emergency” means that a person is living in conditions which present a substantial risk of serious harm and includes, but is not limited to, problems which cannot be managed by a person who is impaired, such as insufficient food supply, inadequate shelter, threatened or actual abuse or utility shut-off. Emergency does not mean psychiatric emergency as provided for in Chapter 50 of Title 16.
(8) ”Emergency services” are protective services furnished to a person in an emergency.
(9) ”Essential services” shall refer to those physical, medical, social, psychiatric or legal services necessary to safeguard the person, rights and resources of the person who is impaired and to maintain the person’s physical and mental well-being. These services shall include, but not be limited to, adequate food and clothing, heated and sanitary shelter, medical care for physical and mental health needs, assistance in personal hygiene, protection from health and safety hazards, protection from physical or mental injury or exploitation.
(10) ”Exploitation” means an act of forcing, compelling, or exerting undue influence over a vulnerable adult causing the vulnerable adult to act in a way that is inconsistent with relevant past behavior, or causing the vulnerable adult to perform services for the benefit of another.
(11) ”Financial exploitation” means the illegal or improper use, control over, or withholding of the property, income, resources, or trust funds of the elderly person or the vulnerable adult by any person or entity for any person’s or entity’s profit or advantage other than for the elder person or the vulnerable adult’s profit or advantage. “Financial exploitation” includes, but is not limited to:
a. The use of deception, intimidation, or undue influence by a person or entity in a position of trust and confidence with an elderly person or a vulnerable adult to obtain or use the property, income, resources, or trust funds of the elderly person or the vulnerable adult for the benefit of a person or entity other than the elderly person or the vulnerable adult;
b. The breach of a fiduciary duty, including, but not limited to, the misuse of a power of attorney, trust, or a guardianship appointment, that results in the unauthorized appropriation, sale, or transfer of the property, income, resources, or trust funds of the elderly person or the vulnerable adult for the benefit of a person or entity other than the elderly person or the vulnerable adult; and
c. Obtaining or using an elderly person or a vulnerable adult’s property, income, resources, or trust funds without lawful authority, by a person or entity who knows or clearly should know that the elderly person or the vulnerable adult lacks the capacity to consent to the release or use of his or her property, income, resources, or trust funds.
(12) ”Financial institution” means any of the following:
a. A “depository institution,” as defined in § 3(c) of the Federal Deposit Insurance Act (12 U.S.C § 1813(c)).
b. A “federal credit union” or “state credit union,” as defined in § 101 of the Federal Credit Union Act (12 U.S.C. § 1752), including, but not limited to, an institution-affiliated party of a credit union, as defined in § 206(r) of the Federal Credit Union Act (12 U.S.C. § 1786(r)).
c. An “institution-affiliated party,” as defined in § 3(u) of the Federal Deposit Insurance Act (12 U.S.C. § 1813(u)).
d. A “broker-dealer,” “investment adviser,” or “federal covered adviser,” as defined in § 73-103 of Title 6.
(13) ”Hazardous living condition” means a mode of life which contains a substantial risk of physical injury, or mental distress, or exploitation.
(14) ”Independent living arrangement” means a mode of life pursued by a person capable of providing for the person’s own care or who, while impaired, nevertheless is able to live outside an institution with assistance in obtaining essential services.
(15) ”Interested person” means any adult relative or friend of a person who is impaired; an official or representative of the protective services agency or of any public or nonpublic private agency; or any corporation, board, organization or person designated by the Court to act in the interest of the person who is impaired.
(16) ”Mistreatment” means the failure to provide appropriate physical or emotional care to an adult who is impaired, including the inappropriate use of medications, isolation or physical or chemical restraints on or of an adult who is impaired.
(17) ”Neglect” means:
a. Lack of attention by a caregiver to physical needs of an adult who is impaired including but not limited to toileting, bathing, meals and safety;
b. Failure by a caregiver to carry out a treatment plan prescribed by a health care professional for an adult who is impaired; or
c. Intentional and permanent abandonment or desertion in any place of an adult who is impaired by a caregiver who does not make reasonable efforts to ensure that essential services, as defined in this section, will be provided for said adult who is impaired.
(18) ”Person who is incapacitated” means a person for whom a guardian of person or property, or both, shall be appointed, under § 3901 of Title 12.
(19) ”Physical or mental disability” shall include any physical or mental disability and shall include, but not be limited to, intellectual and developmental disabilities, brain damage, physical degeneration, deterioration, senility, disease, habitual drunkenness or addiction to drugs, and mental or physical impairment.
(20) ”Protective placement” means the transfer of a person out of an independent living arrangement.
(21) ”Public Guardian” means the Office of the Public Guardian.
(22) ”Substantially impaired in the ability to provide adequately for the person’s own care and custody” means the person who is impaired is unable to perform or obtain for himself or herself essential services.
(23) ”Vulnerable adult” means an adult who meets the criteria set forth in § 1105(c) of Title 11.
(a) Any person who knowingly or recklessly abuses, neglects, exploits or mistreats an adult who is impaired shall be guilty of a class A misdemeanor.
(b) Any person who knowingly or recklessly exploits an adult who is impaired by using the resources of an adult who is impaired shall be guilty of a class A misdemeanor where the value of the resources is less than $500 and a class G felony where the value of the resources is $500 or more but less than $5,000. If the value of the resources is $5,000 or more but less than $10,000, the person shall be guilty of a class E felony. If the value of the resources is $10,000 or more but less than $50,000, the person shall be guilty of a class D felony and if the value of the resources is $50,000 or more the person shall be guilty of a class C felony. Any subsequent conviction under this subsection shall be treated as a class C felony regardless of the amount of resources exploited.
(c) Any person who knowingly or recklessly abuses, neglects, exploits or mistreats an adult who is impaired, and causes bodily harm, permanent disfigurement or permanent disability shall be guilty of a class D felony. Where the abuse, mistreatment or neglect results in death, such person shall be guilty of a class A felony.
State Mandated Reporting
Who has to report?
Any person having reasonable cause to believe that an adult person is impaired or incapacitated as defined in § 3902 of this title and is in need of protective services as defined in § 3904
When to report?
Any person having reasonable cause to believe that an adult person is impaired or incapacitated and is in need of protective services.
How to report?
Reports shall be made to the Department of Health and Social Services, Division of Services for Aging and Adults with Physical Disabilities: 800-223-9074