Dr. Stacey Wood is one of the nation’s leading experts on financial elder abuse and fraud. Dr. Wood’s rich experience as a researcher, clinician for California Adult Protective Services participation in court proceedings makes her the ideal expert witness for your next case. See Dr. Wood’s curriculum vitae.
Elder Abuse in California
In California, Adult Protective Services (APS) receives as many as 10,000 reports of elder and dependent abuse per month, and APS has stated those numbers are increasing. With nearly 120,000 cases of reported elder abuse in each year, this is clearly an important issue for lawyers in California. Elder abuse in California involves a number of criminal and civil statutes. Litigation often requires the counsel of a credible geropsychologist to help make assessments, testify in court, and assist in investigations.
Dr. Wood’s Elder Abuse Experience
Dr. Wood has worked on well over 200 APS and fraud cases in her work as a consultant in Los Angeles County, Riverside County, and San Bernardino Counties. In this role she has attended team meetings, assisted investigations, conducted in-field assessments, and testified in court primarily in cases related to elder financial abuse and undue influence. In addition, Dr. Wood has received funding from the National Institute of Justice for her work on financial exploitation of older adults.
Contact a proven elder abuse expert in California for your next case.
Why choose Dr. Wood for elder abuse cases?
Relied on by California APS
Dr. Wood performs statewide training for California Adult Protective Services on elder abuse in addition to probate and judicial training.
An Active Researcher in the Field
Dr. Wood, Ph.D., is a full professor at Scripps College in the Department of Psychology and actively publishes research in the areas of financial elder abuse and fraud. Research funding has included the National Institute on Aging, National Science Foundation, the National Institute on Justice and the Borchard Foundation for Law and Aging.
Focused on Elder Abuse Cases
Dr. Wood’s scope of practice is limited to the assessment of older adults and dependent adults with diminished capacity. She possesses immense experience on areas like probate conservatorship and testamentary capacity within elder abuse.
Interested in working with Dr. Wood on your next elder abuse case?
Featured Information on Elder Abuse
Importance of Numeracy as a Risk Factor for Elder Financial Exploitation in a Community Sample
Development of measures to asses four types of elder mistreatment.
National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) University of Southern California
The NCEA is the national authority on elder abuse and provides up-to-date, pertinent and value resources, education, and information on elder abuse and neglect.
In California, the legal standard for creating a will has two components: the testator must be 18 years of age and of “sound mind,” which means possessing testamentary capacity.
Probate conservatorship proceedings in California, a judge appoints a conservator to care for another adult who cannot care for him/herself or his/her finances.
Dr. Stacey Wood
Professor of Psychology, Scripps College
My scholarly interests are in the areas of neuropsychology and decision-making from a lifespan development perspective. I am interested in how changes in the brain, emotion, and motivation interact across the lifespan to influence how we make decisions. I am especially interested in taking theoretical work and applying it to everyday types of decisions. One such application is in the area of assessing decision-making capacity for the courts. An understanding of cognitive mechanisms that may underlie specific types of legal decisions (i.e. testamentary, financial) can help us to design better tools and be more effective as witnesses.
Elder Abuse California: Extended Information
California Elderly Abuse Laws
California elderly abuse laws encompass both criminal and civil statutes. In California, elders are defined as persons 65 years and older. Generally, elder abuse in California is defined as the abuse of an elder or dependent adult. On the criminal side, California primarily uses State Penal Codes 368 and 422 to prosecute crimes of abuse against elderly residents. On the civil side, the California Welfare and Institutions Code provisions 15610.3, 15630, and 15657 have been enacted by the California State Legislature to govern the process of identifying and reporting elder abuse.
Elder Abuse California Penal Code
The two main statutes within the California Penal Code that deal with elder abuse are Section 422 and Section 368. We discuss them in more depth below.
California Penal Code, Section 368
Section (a) of California Penal Code 368 reads:
“The Legislature finds and declares that crimes against elders and dependent adults are deserving of special consideration and protection, not unlike the special protections provided for minor children, because elders and dependent adults may be confused, on various medications, mentally or physically impaired, or incompetent, and therefore less able to protect themselves, to understand or report criminal conduct, or to testify in court proceedings on their own behalf.”
To read the entire penal code, you can visit the California Legislature’s website to read it in its entirety.
California Penal Code, Section 422
Another criminal provision often cited in elder abuse cases in the State of California is California Penal Code, Section 422.
(a) Any person who willfully threatens to commit a crime which will result in death or great bodily injury to another person, with the specific intent that the statement, made verbally, in writing, or by means of an electronic communication device, is to be taken as a threat, even if there is no intent of actually carrying it out, which, on its face and under the circumstances in which it is made, is so unequivocal, unconditional, immediate, and specific as to convey to the person threatened, a gravity of purpose and an immediate prospect of execution of the threat, and thereby causes that person reasonably to be in sustained fear for his or her own safety or for his or her immediate family’s safety, shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail not to exceed one year, or by imprisonment in the state prison.
Read the full text of California Penal Code, Section 422 from the California Legislature website.
California Welfare and Institutions Code 15610.3
California Welfare and Institutions Code 15610.3 is in Chapter 11 of the Welfare and Institutions Code, part of the Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Procedures Act and concerns financial abuse of elders. The entire statute reads:
(a) “Financial abuse” of an elder or dependent adult occurs when a person or entity does any of the following:
(1) Takes, secretes, appropriates, obtains, or retains real or personal property of an elder or dependent adult for a wrongful use or with intent to defraud, or both.
(2) Assists in taking, secreting, appropriating, obtaining, or retaining real or personal property of an elder or dependent adult for a wrongful use or with intent to defraud, or both.
(3) Takes, secretes, appropriates, obtains, or retains, or assists in taking, secreting, appropriating, obtaining, or retaining, real or personal property of an elder or dependent adult by undue influence, as defined in Section 15610.70.
(b) A person or entity shall be deemed to have taken, secreted, appropriated, obtained, or retained property for a wrongful use if, among other things, the person or entity takes, secretes, appropriates, obtains, or retains the property and the person or entity knew or should have known that this conduct is likely to be harmful to the elder or dependent adult.
(c) For purposes of this section, a person or entity takes, secretes, appropriates, obtains, or retains real or personal property when an elder or dependent adult is deprived of any property right, including by means of an agreement, donative transfer, or testamentary bequest, regardless of whether the property is held directly or by a representative of an elder or dependent adult.
(d) For purposes of this section, “representative” means a person or entity that is either of the following:
(1) A conservator, trustee, or other representative of the estate of an elder or dependent adult.
(2) An attorney-in-fact of an elder or dependent adult who acts within the authority of the power of attorney.
(Amended by Stats. 2013, Ch. 668, Sec. 2. Effective January 1, 2014.)
California Welfare and Institutions Code 15630
California Welfare and Institutions Code 15630 is in Chapter 11 of the Welfare and Institutions Code, part of the Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Procedures Act. The first tenet of the statute reads:
(a) Any person who has assumed full or intermittent responsibility for the care or custody of an elder or dependent adult, whether or not he or she receives compensation, including administrators, supervisors, and any licensed staff of a public or private facility that provides care or services for elder or dependent adults, or any elder or dependent adult care custodian, health practitioner, clergy member, or employee of a county adult protective services agency or a local law enforcement agency, is a mandated reporter.
California Welfare and Institutions Code 15657
California Welfare and Institutions Code 15630 is in Chapter 11 of the Welfare and Institutions Code, part of the Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Procedures Act. The entire statute is displayed below:
Where it is proven by clear and convincing evidence that a defendant is liable for physical abuse as defined in Section 15610.63, or neglect as defined in Section 15610.57, and that the defendant has been guilty of recklessness, oppression, fraud, or malice in the commission of this abuse, the following shall apply, in addition to all other remedies otherwise provided by law:
(a) The court shall award to the plaintiff reasonable attorney’s fees and costs. The term “costs” includes, but is not limited to, reasonable fees for the services of a conservator, if any, devoted to the litigation of a claim brought under this article.
(b) The limitations imposed by Section 377.34 of the Code of Civil Procedure on the damages recoverable shall not apply. However, the damages recovered shall not exceed the damages permitted to be recovered pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section 3333.2 of the Civil Code.
(c) The standards set forth in subdivision (b) of Section 3294 of the Civil Code regarding the imposition of punitive damages on an employer based upon the acts of an employee shall be satisfied before any damages or attorney’s fees permitted under this section may be imposed against an employer.
(Amended by Stats. 2004, Ch. 886, Sec. 3. Effective January 1, 2005.)
Report of Suspected Dependent Adult/Elder Abuse – SOC 341
SOC 341 is a report of suspected dependent adult/elder abuse in California.This form, as adopted by the California Department of Social Services (CDSS), is required under Welfare and Institutions Code (WIC) Sections 15630 and 15658(a)(1). This form documents the information given by the reporting party on the suspected incident of abuse or neglect of an elder or dependent adult.
Elder Abuse Statute of Limitations California (Lawsuits)
The elder abuse statute of limitations for lawsuits in California is filing within two years of the intentional or negligent act. This is governed by the California Code of Civil Procedure 335.1.
Elder Abuse in California
Elder abuse in California is a serious and growing issue. By 2020, the state is expected to have 14% of the nation’s population, an increase of 15.7 million people. In California, elder abuse cases will likely increase in volume as the elderly population is expected to grow more than twice as fast as the total population (California Department of Aging).
California Elder Abuse Statistics
As previously stated, California Adult Protective Services estimates there are nearly 120,000 cases of reported elder abuse in each year in the state. APS also estimates that for every case that is reported, there are four that go unreported, which would put the number of actual cases of elder abuse near 600,000 every year in California.
Elder Abuse Lawsuits California
Elder abuse lawsuits must be filed within two years of the intentional or negligent act. In civil proceedings in California, the California Welfare and Institutions Code that are most commonly cited include 15610.3, 15630, and 15657.
Elder Abuse Reporting California
California’s standard reporting mechanism for elder abuse is SOC 341. The Report of Suspected Dependent Adult/Elder Abuse is required under the Welfare and Institutions Code (WIC) Sections 15630 and 15658(a)(1). This form documents the information given by the reporting party on the suspected incident of abuse or neglect of an elder or dependent adult.