By Steven G. Mehta
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed a bill by state Sen. Jenny Oropeza, D-Long Beach, that increases elder abuse penalties. When it takes effect Jan. 1, 2010, Senate Bill 18 will increase California fines from $6,000 to $10,000 for those found guilty of placing an elder or dependent adult in situations where great bodily harm or death is likely. In addition, the new law will increase fines from $2,000 to $5,000 for those found guilty of placing an elder or dependent adult in dangerous situations not likely to cause death or serious bodily injury. SB 18 is aimed at protecting those ages 65 and older. It does not change sentencing guidelines for elder abusers who are imprisoned for their actions. “California’s senior citizens and their families will rest easier knowing that my new law will help protect them from abuse,” Oropeza said in a statement. “Elder abuse for far too long has been a hidden, pervasive and deadly crime where out of 5 million recent cases, a shocking 84 percent went unreported.” SB 18 was endorsed by the California District Attorneys Association, the California State Sheriffs Association, the California Commission on Aging and the Alzheimer’s Association.