SB 232 by Senator Ileana Garcia expands and strengthens
state laws that punish exploitation of Florida’s Seniors
The Florida Senate passed SB 232, Exploitation of Vulnerable Persons, by Senator Ileana Garcia (R-Miami), Chair of the Senate Committee on Children, Families, and Elder Affairs. The legislation works to combat abuse and exploitation of Florida’s seniors by expanding and strengthening state laws that punish criminals who exploit vulnerable Florida seniors.
“Our seniors are our trophies. They were young once and they escaped tyranny in oppressive countries to start over again. They have made up the fabric of my district and so many other communities across our state. They were once the mentors, the influencers, the blue collar workers, the bodegueros who laid out the blue print for the great gateway city Miami has become. They are the reason I made sure that here in the Florida Senate, I don’t just represent them, I protect them,” said Senator Garcia.
“Our seniors built the thriving communities that have made our state a beacon of hope and prosperity known around the world. As they live out their golden years, they deserve to age with dignity, with our respect and support,” said Senate President Kathleen Passidomo (R-Naples). “Senator Garcia is a champion for our seniors. This strong legislation will help keep more of our elders safe, with strong penalties for those criminals who steal and take advantage of those who are up in age.”
Senate Bill 232 creates specific penalties for exploiting a person 65 years of age or older by obtaining or using, through deception or intimidation, the property of a person 65 years of age or older with the intent to deprive that person of the use, benefit, or possession of the property. This includes obtaining the property of a person 65 years of age or older through fraudulent creation of a plan of a will, trust, or other testamentary. Additionally, the bill creates specific penalties for depriving, with the intent to defraud and by means of bribery or kickbacks, a person 65 years of age or older of his or her intangible right to honest services provided by an individual who has a legal or fiduciary relationship with such person.
If the funds, assets, or property involved in the exploitation are valued at: $50,000 or more, the offender commits a level 7 first degree felony; $10,000 or more, but less than $50,000, the offender commits a level 6 second degree felony; or, less than $10,000, the offender commits a level 4 third degree felony. It does not constitute a defense to a prosecution for any violation of this section that the accused did not know the age of the victim.
The National Council on Aging estimates that 1 in 10 Americans over the age of 60 have experienced elder abuse, which can include financial exploitation. According to the most recent report by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), in 2021, over 92,000 victims over the age of 60 reported losses of $1.7 billion to the [Internet Crime Complaint Center or “IC3”]. 2 This represents a 74 percent increase in losses over losses reported in 2020.” 3 Average loss per victim was $18,246.4 According to the FBI’s report, Florida ranked second in the nation in fraud victims over age 60 (9,645) with losses from that fraud reported to be $224,205,716.5.