Mom Did It Again: Objectives and Challenges in Helping the Elderly in a Criminal Matter

As Bay Area / Silicon Valley Criminal Defense Attorneys, we sometimes get calls from family members who are trying to help an elderly parent through a criminal case.

Types of Criminal Case in Which an Elderly Person is Involved

This could be a theft-related matter, a violation of a protective order or an abuse of process. Sometimes it is an illegal possession case: a gun, drugs, open container, even illegal pornography. Well, it’s like people say, sometimes judgment is hazy or people get bored or frustrated, and little ruts become big liabilities.

When a parent is in trouble, we have seen situations where the son or daughter’s words have gotten them there—possibly in an effort to protect them from self-harm. At times, there is a pattern of manipulation. It is not exactly our role to judge if these were misunderstandings or gross negligence, or truths. However, if a comment is abuse of process, we could argue that it was intentional, and that could be a defense.

Often other factors play a role in a parent’s violation of laws: malaise, a temper caused by understandable frustration, helplessness, psychological causes, valid arguments or concerns about money or healthcare.

Our role in these cases is to use total compassion and to render help no matter what the situation.
-James Dunn

Solutions to Avoid Jail

While we may only discuss the case with the defendant, barring a power of attorney or explicit waiver by the defendant, we can try to convey timing issues and basics so long as there is no conflict. We help families get back on track– jail is no place for a senior.

We’ve found challenges in getting proper medications into the jails, and other medical and psychological needs might not be met. If this is the case, we can argue that home monitoring and alcohol monitoring is a better option.

Where a small amount of jail time is proscribed, the Sherriff’s Work Program (“SWaP”) would be appropriate. But what if mom or dad are not physically suited for picking up trash at the roadside? There are substitutes we could suggest to a judge.

Of course, most cases to not result in jail time at all, however I point these items out for those who wonder how a parent could make it through the process. Be assured your attorney and the legal community will help them in any way we can.