Minnesota Law on Financial Exploitation of a Vulnerable Adult
Vulnerable adults are protected under Minnesota law against financial exploitation. Who is a vulnerable adult? When can a person be prosecuted for financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult and are there any defenses? I will attempt to answer these questions for you.
A vulnerable adult is defined as a person who is least 18 years of age and resides at an inpatient facility or receive services at or from a facility licensed to serve adults. A vulnerable adult also includes a person who is not a resident of a facility but has a physical or mental infirmity or emotional dysfunction. The infirmity or dysfunction must impair the person’s ability to provide adequately for their own care without assistance, including the provision of food, shelter, clothing, and health care. As a direct result of their dysfunction or infirmity, the vulnerable adult must have an impaired ability to protect themselves from maltreatment by others.
The crime of financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult can occur when a person is in a fiduciary relationship with the vulnerable adult. A fiduciary relationship exists when a person holds a position of trust with the vulnerable adult. The vulnerable adult may have signed a power of attorney and transferred financial control of their assets to the attorney in fact. A person in a fiduciary relationship can be charged with the crime by intentionally failing to use the property or financial resources of the vulnerable adult to provide for their food, clothing, shelter, health care, or supervision. A crime can also occur if the fiduciary deprives the vulnerable adult of their financial resources by using them for the benefit of someone other than the vulnerable adult. Minnesota law also prohibits a person who is not a fiduciary from acquiring the property of the vulnerable adult through the use of harassment, undue influence, or duress.
There are numerous defenses to the charge of exploitation of a vulnerable adult. The state will need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the alleged victim was in fact a vulnerable adult at the time of the offense. If a vulnerable adult was diagnosed with dementia, for example, after the date of alleged offense, the prosecution may have difficulty proving their case. If the defense presents expert testimony that the alleged vulnerable adult does not in fact suffer from dementia, you will be able to create reasonable doubt in the mind of the jury. Consent is another defense to the charge as long as the alleged victim was competent to give consent to another person. Finally, the police may have violated the law in gathering evidence to be used against you. If so, a motion to suppress the use of the incriminating evidence can be filed by a skilled Minnesota criminal defense attorney. If you win on the motion, the evidence cannot be used against you at trial.
If you or someone you know is under investigation or has been charged with the crime of financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult, you will need an experienced criminal defense attorney to protect your freedom and your reputation. Minneapolis Attorney Robert J. Shane has 30 years of criminal defense experience and has a winning record. Call now at (612) 339-1024 for the “Best Defense” or visit his website at www.criminallawyerminnesota.com for more information on this topic.