In New Jersey, endangering the welfare of an elderly person or a disabled person is a rarely used offense, but it is still serious nevertheless. The statute is also rather controversial as it criminalizes actions that may be usually handled in civil cases. For most criminal cases, someone has a guilty mind in addition to the guilty act. In other words, most crimes do not involve mistakes. However, this statute does criminalize mistakes which in the legal field is called neglect.
As a result, a strong defense is needed here. In front of a jury, the State will play up how this vulnerable person was injured by the Defendant’s actions or inaction whereas the Defense will demonstrate that the Defendant did the best that they could and that other factors led to injury. Our team of tough, smart defense lawyers know how to put a proper defense together to achieve the best results. Call us at 1-855-9-JEFLAW to discuss your case today.
The statute reads:
a. A person having a legal duty to care for or who has assumed continuing responsibility for the care of a person 60 years of age or older or a disabled adult, who abandons the elderly person or disabled adult or unreasonably neglects to do or fails to permit to be done any act necessary for the physical or mental health of the elderly person or disabled adult, is guilty of a crime of the third degree. For purposes of this section “abandon” means the willful desertion or forsaking of an elderly person or disabled adult.
b. A person shall not be considered to commit an offense under this section for the sole reason that he provides or permits to be provided nonmedical remedial treatment by spiritual means through prayer alone in lieu of medical care, in accordance with the tenets and practices of the elderly person’s or disabled adult’s established religious tradition, to an elderly person or disabled adult to whom he has a legal duty to care for or has assumed responsibility for the care of.