Under Texas law, elder abuse is defined as any form of sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse, exploitation or neglect on a person age 65 years or older. Family members, care providers, or any other person who has access to an elderly person's assets and uses those assets for personal gain without the consent of the elder are guilty of exploitation. Neglect occurs when someone knowingly denies an elderly person proper care that results in either physical or emotional damage. Those who engage in sexual conduct with an elderly person without receiving consent are guilty of sexual abuse under Section 21.08 of the Texas Penal Code.
Texas residents are required by law to report known elder abuse to the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS). Residents will have their identity concealed, and will not run the risk of facing either civil or criminal liability. Any Texas resident who knows about elder abuse and decides not to report it will be charged and convicted of a Class B misdemeanor. Texas law forbids anyone from filing a false claim of elder abuse. The Adult Protective Services (APS) is responsible for investigating any claims of elder abuse that take place within a care facility, including private homes. Texas residents may call a variety of toll-free hotline numbers to report elder abuse.
Elder abuse is considered a felony in Texas, although the circumstances involved determine whether it's a felony in the first, second, or third degree. Elder abusers who willingly cause serious physical harm on a senior citizen will be convicted of a felony in the first degree. A second degree felony occurs when the abuser causes serious physical harm through a reckless act. Exploitation of a senior citizen constitutes a felony in the third degree. Any bodily harm done to a senior citizen is also considered a felony in the third degree, even if it isn't serious.
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