Exploiting vulnerable and elderly adults is a crime in Virginia. Even those who are authorized to assist vulnerable adults are potentially culpable. Documents such as a power of attorney may be a defense to some extent, but even an individual power of attorney within the family who can act in the stead of the authority grantor can be found guilty. The power of attorney does not eliminate the fiduciary responsibility duty to the grantor.
Exploitation charges and evidence
All criminal charges are based on evidence. In the case of vulnerable adult exploitation, not only can banking records and property transference be included, but evidence of encouraging the grantor to make certain decisions can be considered suspicious as well. Some charges are directly tied to one incident, while others will be a totality of circumstances that show exploitation on any level. However, just because a charge looks valid does not mean that a defense argument cannot be crafted.
The exploitation of vulnerable individuals in Virginia is often brought to light first by supposedly concerned family members who may not necessarily have valid evidence of their claims. Authorities may conduct an investigation before making an arrest, and many cases are filed even on borderline criminal activity. Appearances may be deceiving with the grantor benefits in any way along with the charged individual. Evidence of benefit for the grantor is actually a common criminal defense due to actually being codified in the law.
It is important for victim families to understand that exploitation can occur in nursing homes and assisted living facilities as well as be an internal family issue. Serious cases are usually filed as a Class 4 felony, which can result in 1-5 years in a state penal facility if convicted.