Elder Abuse Unit
The First Judicial District’s Elder Abuse Prosecution Unit was created in direct response to the rapidly aging population and out of concern for the unique vulnerability of seniors. Jefferson County has the largest number of seniors in Colorado, with over 20% of the population being over the age of 60. It is projected that by 2020 that 27% of the Jefferson County population will be elder adults.
Elder abuse is one of the fastest growing crimes in our community. These crimes are often under-reported and under-investigated. Because of this these crimes are also often difficult to prosecute. The District Attorney’s Office is committed to the aggressive prosecution of those who victimize seniors and works closely with local law enforcement agencies, Adult Protective Services, private organizations and professionals to locate and hold accountable those who commit these crimes.
The Elder Abuse Unit works through the legislature to help protect seniors. In 2016, Colorado's legislature passed a bill allowing prosecutors to depose elderly victims prior trial because they are subject to serious health issues that could prevent them from testifying. In 2014, a mandatory reporting bill for elder abuse was passed, requiring many professional groups to report to law enforcement when they suspect abuse, neglect or financial exploitation of person 70 or older. The professional groups include bank personnel, clergy, mental health professionals, physicians and others.
Features of the Unit
- Specialized prosecutors dedicated to prosecuting all types of crimes perpetrated against the elderly
- Training for law enforcement
- Resources for the community, victims, and service providers
What is Elder Abuse?
Elder abuse can be any type of crime perpetrated against older adults, who are considered “at-risk” adults. This can include physical abuse, emotional abuse, financial exploitation, neglect and sexual abuse. Colorado defines an “at-risk” adult as a person age 70 or older.
Warning Signs of Elder Abuse
- Physical Abuse: bruises, scratches, burns, broken bones or other injuries which are not explained
- Neglect: changes in personal grooming, weight loss, unkempt appearance, unsanitary living conditions, dirty and un-bathed
- Financial Exploitation: depletion or large withdrawals from bank accounts, changes in designation of beneficiaries to wills or other financial documents, actions exceeding the scope of a power of attorney, new friends or relatives appearing in the elder’s life, unnecessary purchases or expenditures
- Emotional Abuse: overbearing or threatening caregiver, restricting access to family or friends, changes in mood or behavior