Reporting Requirements: Criminal Penalties
Georgia law provides for the protection of elders and those who are disabled and living in long term care facilities. As with other areas of the law that provide certain populations protections, the care of our disabled or elderly citizens also makes sure that these protections are backed-up with consequences, not just words. Georgia law (the Official Code of Georgia title 30 chapter 5 section 8) provides that it is unlawful to abuse or to neglect or to exploit these populations. Anyone who does so with the "specific intent " to do these things to disabled adults for example will be met with very clear penalties.
So, for example a person who is living in a long-term care facility and is suffering from dementia of different types or is either mentally or physically impaired, and is harmed by the actions of a caregiver is protected by harsh punishments. The law holds those who own, run or serve on the board of one of these facilities criminally liable for the acts of a caregiver or other person who works at the facility and is convicted of harming the individuals protected by these laws.
And what happens to those who violate the laws that protect the elderly and disabled? They will be guilty of a felony for their actions proven in a court. Not only that, they will be imprisoned for between one and five years for this criminal conduct. In addition, those who fail to report abuse of the elderly or disabled and fail to report this will be guilty of a misdemeanor.
The families of the elderly or disabled whose relatives are living in these facilities must know that the law protects their relatives. This is not something that many people know, but they should know this. It is reassuring to know that if you suspect that something has happened to your relative, you have options to correct this issue which is a very serious one.
And for those disabled adults or elderly adults who are competent to understand their rights, they need to know that they are not alone and that if there is a problem with their care, there are people who MUST report this and those responsible will be held accountable. This is difficult because behind closed doors, we cannot know what is happening and how these individuals might be harmed.
That is why the law protects them. They are vulnerable and must be protected and the criminal penalties for abuse or neglect or exploitation are helpful. A felony is a major crime and stays with a person for the rest of their lives. Anyone who is caring for the elderly or disabled should know that not only can they be imprisoned for this and be found guilty of a felony, failing to report this is also a misdemeanor.
Those who run these facilities have great duties as well. They are bound to report and can be held liable for criminal misdemeanor for failing to do so. This is serious indeed and it is crucial that the public know about these laws so that if they see something, they say something and contact authorities immediately.