Montana Elder Fraud Statutes
In the Montana Elder and Persons With Developmental Disabilities Abuse Prevention Act, exploitation is defined as “the unreasonable use of an older person or a person with a developmental disability or of a power of attorney, conservatorship, or guardianship with regard to an older person or a person with a developmental disability in order to obtain control of or to divert to the advantage of another the ownership, use, benefit, or possession of or interest in the person’s money, assets, or property by means of deception, duress, menace, fraud, undue influence, or intimidation with the intent or result of permanently depriving the older person or person with a developmental disability of the ownership, use, benefit, or possession of or interest in the person’s money, assets, or property.”
Section 52-3-811 of the act requires a person to make a report if they have cause to believe that someone is being exploited. This report needs to contain the names and addresses of both the alleged victim and the person who may have exploited him or her. It also has to provide as much information as possible on the nature of the exploitation. When a report is made in good faith, section 52-3-814 makes it clear that the person making the report will be immune from any criminal or civil liability.
Evidence of exploitation
When a report of suspected exploitation is made, the person or agency that received it will then prepare a written account of the evidence. This can happen with the consent of the alleged victim or without consent if it appears that the individual is incapacitated.
Elder fraud penalties
According to section 52-3-825, if someone “negligently abuses an older person or a person with a developmental disability,” they are guilty of a misdemeanor. If this is their first conviction, the penalty is a fine of up to $1,000 and/or imprisonment of up to one year.
For any subsequent convictions, this becomes a felony, and the person could face a fine of up to $10,000 and/or a prison sentence of up to 10 years. If someone “purposely or knowingly abuses” an older person or a person with a development disability, this is also a felony with the same penalties.
In addition, if a person suspects abuse or exploitation and “purposely or knowingly” doesn’t make a report, they will also face a penalty. This could include a fine of up to $500 and/or up to six months in jail.
Elder exploitation is a serious offense in Montana, and victims need to know that they may be able to recover any money they may have lost. To learn about the options, contact an experienced elder financial fraud attorney at the Silver Law Group. You can call us at 800-975-4345 or fill out our online form.
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