Two state lawmakers and Attorney General Ashley Moody announced proposals Tuesday that would, among other pursuits, broaden the Attorney General’s jurisdiction and create new elder exploitation offenses.
The proposals, SB 1344 and HB 1041, are sponsored by Republican lawmakers, Sen. Danny Burgess of Zephyrhills and Rep. Colleen Burton of Lakeland.
Under the bills, the Florida Attorney General’s jurisdiction would expand to include offenses regarding elderly persons and disabled adults.
“The abuse of a position of trust that causes significant financial or physical harm to a senior is not just a civil matter, it can be criminal and should be prosecuted,” Moody said in a news release. “As Attorney General, I am dedicated to protecting our great seniors and ensuring that criminals who target them are brought to justice. To better accomplish this important goal, we must strengthen our laws to ensure none of these criminals evade responsibility for their devious actions.”
The proposals would also bar a person convicted of abusing, neglecting or exploiting an elderly person from serving as a personal representative.
Moreover, those convicted of elder exploitation would no longer be eligible to receive benefits under a deceased person’s will.
“With this bill we are taking a necessary step to eliminate abuse of elderly and disabled individuals by setting limitations on who can represent them and setting guidelines on inheritance if abuse occurs,” Burton said. “It is our responsibility to not allow our vulnerable citizens to be taken advantage of and we must take action now.”
The proposal would expand who may file a protection injunction for exploitation and extend a temporary injunction to up to 45 days.
Intentionally isolating a disabled or elderly person as a way to conceal criminal activity would also be criminalized under the measures.
“Protecting our most vulnerable population has and always will be a top priority for me,” Burgess said. “This great bill ensures that their assets are taken care of and I am honored to work alongside Attorney General Ashley Moody and Representative Colleen Burton to combat and prevent these inexcusable crimes.”
The bills are intended to “strengthen senior protection in Florida,” a news release said.