When elderly or disabled people welcome caregivers into their homes, they are at serious risk of becoming the victim of caregiver theft, abuse, or negligence. Pennsylvania law has a number of statutes in place to protect the elderly in these situations and holds caregivers to high standards.

However, misunderstandings happen, and some well-meaning caregivers find themselves unfairly accused of elder theft. In these situations, it’s good to know the potential penalties, how this could affect your future, and what it will take to defend yourself from theft charges.

If you are a caregiver accused of stealing in Chester County, PA, contact attorney Michael Skinner today. As an experienced and successful criminal defense attorney, he will discuss your situation and how he can help. Call (610) 436-1410 for a free consultation.

Caregiver Theft in Pennsylvania

Caregiver theft cases often command top spots in newspapers’ headlines. In one recent case, a woman posed as an in-home caregiver for an elderly woman, waited for her to get into the shower, and then stole her money and left.

In a mid-2019 case, a man in Perry County stole nearly $100,000 from a West Shore couple while acting as a caregiver. Although the man avoided prison time, he was ordered to repay almost $100,000 to the couple after falsifying hours in order to get paid more.

A veteran in Wilkes-Barre was targeted by his home health care aide. With the help of a home security camera, he caught the aide stealing Christmas ornaments, family heirlooms, and medications.

Charges Relating to Theft

Theft by deception is a charge commonly used to hold caregivers responsible for their actions. Under Section 3921 of Title 18, deception is defined as:

  • Intentionally creating a false impression
  • Preventing another from getting information that would affect their judgment of a transaction
  • Failing to correct a false impression that the person knows influences another person with whom he has a fiduciary or confidential relationship

A person may be accused of stealing movable property or immovable property.

Penalties for Caregiver Theft

Penalties largely depend on the value of the items or services stolen. If a person is convicted of stealing something less than $50, it is a summary offense. This is less than a misdemeanor and not considered a criminal conviction. However, it does show up on background checks, which will affect future employment. A summary offense also generally carries a fine between $25 and $1,500.

If someone steals more than $2,000, it is a second degree felony. Sentencing recommendations vary but typically range from 90 days in jail to seven years in prison.

You should also be familiar with Section 9717 of Title 42, which refers to sentences for offenses against elderly persons. If someone engages in theft by deception, they will serve a sentence of no less than 12 months. This applies to crimes committed against someone over 60 years by someone who is less than 60 years old. Someone will not be eligible for parole until they have served the minimum term of imprisonment.

Elder Theft Defense Options

The first thing you should do after a theft accusation is reach out to a criminal defense lawyer. Speaking to a police officer or to the person who accused you in an attempt to clear things up can seriously damage your case and get you in more trouble.

Your attorney can help you if you are questioned by the police and begin building a case to defend you. In some situations, for example, a caregiver is accused of theft by a client who suffers from delusions or believes that everyone who cares for them is trying to steal from them. In these situations, it is crucial to clear up the situation to protect your career.

Skinner Law Firm Can Help

If you have been accused of theft in or around Chester County, PA, you must act now to protect yourself, your freedom, and your career. At Skinner Law Firm, we are here to help. Call (610) 436-1410 or contact us online to learn more about your options.

Article Author

Michael J. Skinner, the founder of Skinner Law Firm LLC, is a former prosecutor with the Chester County District Attorney’s Office.

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