Austin Elder Financial Abuse Lawyer

Were You Arrested for Financially Scamming an Elderly Person?

Elder financial abuse involves the wrongful use of an elderly person's assets. This abuse can take many forms, from theft to manipulation, and often occurs within relationships of trust. Texas law is designed to safeguard the elderly from being exploited by those they rely on and trust, which is why the penalties for violating the law are severe. 

When facing criminal allegations such as elder financial abuse, seeking legal assistance should be your priority. The criminal defense attorneys at Cofer & Connelly, PLLC, are experienced in representing clients across Texas in a broad spectrum of abuse cases, including those related to elder abuse. To schedule a consultation with an elder financial abuse lawyer, get in touch with Cofer & Connelly, PLLC, via phone at (512) 991-0576 or online.

Texas Law on Elder Financial Abuse

Under Texas Statutes Section 32.55, elder financial abuse means the improper or illegal use of an elderly individual's money or property. An elderly individual, under Texas law, is anyone who is 65 years or older. The law describes financial abuse in various forms, primarily focusing on the wrongful acquisition, holding, or use of an elderly person's assets, which can include their money or any other type of property. This type of abuse can manifest in several ways, such as taking money without permission, misusing property, retaining assets that don't belong to the individual, or using the elderly person's assets in a way that wasn't intended by the owner or that causes the elderly person to not have enough for their necessary expenses.

This exploitation doesn't just happen randomly; it often occurs within relationships where trust is expected and required. If you are a spouse, relative, legal guardian, joint property owner, financial advisor, or caregiver to the elderly individual, you hold a position of trust. Misusing this trust to financially exploit the elderly person is what the law aims to prevent and punish.

For a prosecutor to successfully convict someone of elder financial abuse, they must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused knowingly engaged in the financial exploitation of an elderly individual. This means showing that the accused was aware of their actions and knew they were exploiting the elderly person financially. The actions leading to these charges can range from theft to more subtle forms of manipulation, like coercion, intimidation, or the misuse of legal authority such as a power of attorney.

Penalties for Elder Financial Abuse in Texas

In Texas, if you're found guilty of elder financial abuse, the consequences depend on the value of the property or money you misappropriated. The penalties range from lighter fines and jail time for smaller amounts to very severe punishments for larger amounts.

  • Class B Misdemeanor: If the value involved is less than $100, it's treated as a Class B Misdemeanor. The potential maximum punishment is 180 days in jail and a fine of $2,000.
  • Class A Misdemeanor: If the value is between $100 and $750, the offense is classified as a Class A Misdemeanor. This could lead to a jail sentence of up to one year and a fine of up to $4,000.
  • State Jail Felony: If the value is between $750 and $2,500, the crime is considered a State Jail Felony. The potential punishment is a jail term ranging from 180 days to 2 years, and a fine of up to $10,000.
  • Third Degree Felony: For amounts between $2,500 and $30,000, the offense is classified as a Third Degree Felony. The potential punishment is 2 to 10 years of imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000.
  • Second Degree Felony: If the value is between $30,000 and $150,000, the crime is treated as a Second Degree Felony. The punishment for this classification is a prison sentence of 2 to 20 years and a fine of up to $10,000.
  • First Degree Felony: For values exceeding $150,000, the offense is considered a First Degree Felony. This is the most severe classification for elder financial abuse, with a punishment ranging from 5 to 99 years, or potentially life in prison, along with a fine of up to $10,000.

It’s worth noting that Texas courts sometimes offer alternatives to incarceration (e.g., probation), especially for lesser offenses or first-time offenders. These alternatives aim to rehabilitate rather than punish, with the intent of reducing the likelihood of future offenses. However, the availability of those alternatives often depends on the specifics of the case, the amount involved, and the defendant's criminal history.

How Does Financial Abuse Compare with Exploitation of an Elder Person?

Another criminal offense that is similar to financial abuse of the elderly is Texas Statutes Section 32.53, which defines exploitation of an elder person as the illegal or improper use of elder individuals or their resources for personal or financial gain. It criminalizes actions that intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly cause exploitation, classifying the offense as a third-degree felony. This could result in 2 to 10 years of imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000. This particular law recognizes forms of exploitation beyond just financial abuse.

Potential Defenses to Elder Financial Abuse Charges in Austin

In cases of elder financial abuse, several defenses might be applicable, depending on the specifics of the charges and the circumstances surrounding the case.

Lack of Intent

One common defense is the absence of intent to commit fraud or abuse. This means you might argue that any financial transactions were made with the honest belief that you had the right or permission to do so. For instance, if you're accused of misusing funds, but you thought the elderly individual had given you consent to use the money for a particular purpose, this could be a valid defense.

Lack of Knowledge

Another possible defense is the lack of knowledge, where you might claim that you were unaware that your actions were unauthorized or harmful to the elderly individual. This could apply if you were managing finances and didn't realize that certain transactions were not in the elderly person's best interests.

Previous Transactions of a Similar Nature

In cases where a financial transaction is in question, providing evidence of a previous pattern of similar transactions willingly conducted by the elderly individual might suggest that there was no exploitation or abuse. This might show that the actions were consistent with the elderly person's wishes or financial habits.

Acting in the Best Interests of the Individual

If you hold a power of attorney, proving that all actions taken were within the scope of that legal authority and were in the best interests of the elderly individual can also be a defense. It's important to demonstrate that all decisions were made transparently and with the intention of benefiting the elderly individual, not for personal gain.


Misunderstandings or miscommunications, especially in families or close relationships, can also lead to accusations of financial abuse. In these scenarios, demonstrating that there was a misunderstanding or that the actions were taken based on what you believed were the wishes of the elderly individual can be a potential defense.

Providing Professional Services

Lastly, if you were acting in an official capacity, such as a financial planner or legal guardian, showing that all actions were in line with professional standards and legal requirements could serve as a defense.

Role of an Elder Financial Abuse Lawyer in Austin, TX

If you're charged with elder financial abuse, hiring a criminal defense lawyer can be a great help. They will manage the legal case on your behalf, ensuring that your rights are protected throughout the process. An experienced lawyer will scrutinize the charges against you, gather evidence, and develop a strong defense strategy that fits your specific situation. They will represent you in legal proceedings, advocate for your interests, and work to achieve the best possible outcome. Whether it's negotiating plea bargains, challenging evidence, or representing you at trial, an elder financial abuse lawyer is your advocate.

Frequently Asked Questions about Elder Financial Abuse

What is elder financial abuse?
It's the wrongful use or taking of an elderly person's property or money, often by someone they trust.

Who can commit elder financial abuse?
Anyone, but typically those in a trust relationship with the elderly person, like family members, caregivers, or financial advisors.

What needs to be proved for a conviction?
That the accused knowingly engaged in the financial abuse of an elderly individual.

What are the penalties for elder financial abuse?
Varies from fines and jail time for misdemeanors to long prison sentences and hefty fines for felonies, depending on the amount involved.

Does misusing a power of attorney count as elder financial abuse?
Yes, misuse of a power of attorney or guardianship powers for unauthorized financial gain is considered abuse.

What should I do if I'm accused of elder financial abuse?
Contact an experienced defense lawyer immediately to understand your rights and start building your defense.

Does the amount involved affect the severity of the charge?
Yes, higher amounts lead to more serious charges, with correspondingly severe penalties.

Can I face charges for failing to use an elderly person's assets for their care?
Yes, intentional failure to use their assets for necessary support and maintenance can be considered financial abuse.

Will I go to jail for financial elder abuse?
Not necessarily. Alternatives may include probation, restitution, and/or community service, depending on the case's specifics.

Contact Our Austin Elder Financial Abuse Attorneys Today

If you're facing criminal charges such as elder financial abuse, you’ll want to seek professional legal assistance. The criminal defense attorneys at Cofer & Connelly, PLLC are experienced in representing clients across Texas in a variety of fraud and abuse cases, including elder abuse. Contact Cofer & Connelly, PLLC by calling (512) 991-0576 or contacting us online for a consultation with an elder financial abuse lawyer. Our team is ready to provide the guidance and representation you need to tackle this challenging situation.

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