The Governor of Virginia has signed a new bill into law to fight elder abuse. The legislation was requested by a prosecutor and introduced by a state legislator. The new law is designed to create a framework to establish teams for investigation and prosecution.
The problem of elder abuse is growing throughout the country. A new law in Virginia takes a multi-disciplinary approach, according to The Southwest Times article, “Law boosts tools to fight elder abuse.”
The focus of the law is the difficulty of prosecution, which was what motivated Chuck Slemp III, the commonwealth’s attorney for Wise County and the City of Norton, to work with 38th District Sen. Ben Chafin (R-Lebanon), who introduced the bill in the Virginia Senate.
The law goes into effect July 1 and will help protect adults age 60 and older and physically or mentally incapacitated adults age 18 and older. The legislation provides a framework for local departments of social service and commonwealth attorneys to create one or separate multidisciplinary teams to review cases at all stages of investigation and prosecution. The teams would be made up of professionals from diverse disciplines. The team goals would be as follows:
- To help identify abused, neglected and exploited individuals;
- To coordinate medical, social and legal services for these people and their families;
- To develop programs to detect and prevent abuse, neglect and exploitation; and
- To promote community awareness of the problem, and educate them on ways to prevent it.
Slemp said that he was thrilled that the bill will become law to give the state additional tools in the effort to fight elder crimes and to establish a framework for a team-approach to review these situations. The Commonwealth’s attorney for Wise County and the City of Norton added that he was grateful to Senator Chafin and 4th District Delegate Todd Pillion (R-Abingdon), who introduced the House version of the legislation.
“Every day the elderly are taken advantage of financially and abused. It is our responsibility in the General Assembly to help protect the most vulnerable of our citizens. Commonwealth Attorneys and law enforcement need all of the tools available to effectively prosecute elder abuse and financial exploitation,” said Chafin. “Multidisciplinary response teams will aid in the prosecution of these crimes and will bring these criminals to justice.”
Pillion added, “With an aging population, particularly in rural areas, it’s critical we form the systems and processes needed to help safeguard people who may find themselves in abusive situations.”
The hope is that local municipalities will now have the resources to address the problem of elder abuse.
Reference: The Southwest Times (March 13, 2018) “Law boosts tools to fight elder abuse”