White Collar Crime Of Exploiting Vulnerable Adults In Maryland
White collar crimes in Maryland can have a negative impact on anyone and everyone. This type of negative impact can compound in cases where the victim might lack certain capacities — such as a vulnerable adult or an elderly individual. For this very reason Maryland features a dedicated law against the exploitation of a vulnerable adult.
In this context, it is vital to remember the definition of a “vulnerable adult” under Maryland Code of Criminal Law Section 3-604. This term refers to any adult who lacks the mental or physical capability to provide for their daily needs.
Maryland Laws Against Exploitation of Vulnerable Adult
Maryland Code of Criminal Law Section 8-801 provides the laws against exploitation of a vulnerable adult. There are two elements to this offense in Maryland.
The first element requires the perpetrator to knowingly and willfully obtain a victim’s property through:
- Intimidation; or
- Undue influence.
In this context, the term undue influence refers to a level of force and coercion that prevents a victim from exercising free judgment and choice. Undue influence does not refer to normal levels of influence between family members.
The second element requires the perpetrator to intend to deprive the victim of their property, knowing or having a reason to know that the victim is a/an:
- Vulnerable adult; or
- Elderly adult who is at least 68 years old.
That being said, Section 8-801 is not intended to impose criminal liability on any person who makes a good faith effort to assist a victim with their affairs. To face criminal charges under Section 8-801, a perpetrator must demonstrate the type of criminal intent outlined above.
Maryland Penalties for Exploitation of Vulnerable Adult
Section 8-801 also furnishes the Maryland penalties for exploitation of a vulnerable adult. But the punishment does change based on the value of the property in question. If the value of the property in question is worth:
- Less than $1,500 — This offense is a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum of one year in jail and $500 in criminal fines;
- Between $1,500 and $25,000 — This offense is a felony punishable by a maximum of imprisonment for five years and $10,000 in criminal fines;
- Between $25,000 and $100,000 — This offense is a felony punishable by a maximum of imprisonment for 10 years and $15,000 in criminal fines; or
- At least $100,000 — This offense is a felony punishable by a maximum of imprisonment for 20 years and $25,000 in criminal fines.
In addition to the criminal penalties above, offenders have a duty to restore the property to the owner. Offenders can either restore the actual property taken or provide its equivalent value to the owner or their estate.
If an offender fails to restore the actual property or provide its equivalent value, they become ineligible to inherit or receive similar benefits from the victim.
Do You Need Legal Help?
If you need legal assistance with white collar crime or other offenses in Maryland, it can be vastly beneficial to consult with an established Maryland white collar crime attorney. The attorneys at Schlaich & Thompson, Chartered in Bel Air, Maryland, have more than 60 years of combined legal experience in criminal and family law, including white collar offenses and many other crimes. If you need legal help, contact us today for an initial consultation.