Senate OKs bill lowering elder financial exploitation age
STATE HOUSE – The Senate today approved legislation sponsored by Sen. Cynthia A. Coyne to lower the age at which a victim can be considered an elder under the state’s elder financial exploitation law.
The bill, which now goes to the House of Representatives, addresses an inconsistency in Rhode Island’s elderly abuse laws and helps ensure that all such cases can be appropriately prosecuted.
Although existing state law requires Rhode Islanders to report exploitation of any person age 60 or older, a person cannot be charged with elder financial exploitation unless the victim is at least 65. The bill (2022-S2228) passed by the Senate today lowers that threshold to 60 to match the reporting statute.
“This legislation closes a confusing and unintended gap between our requirement to report abuse and when charges can be brought for elder financial exploitation. Ultimately, it also protects more Rhode Islanders. Our law needs to provide for the broad range of forms that elder exploitation can take. These crimes are not limited to people who no longer handle their own finances. They can happen to adults who simply have their adult children or a friend listed on their bank accounts as a precaution. A wider definition allows for more of the possibilities that arise, and ultimately provides greater protection to Rhode Islanders,” said Senator Coyne (D-Dist. 32, Barrington, Bristol, East Providence).
Senator Coyne, who chaired a task force from 2018 to 2019 on elderly financial exploitation, has sponsored several bills aimed at addressing such abuse, including one (2021-S 0264A) enacted last year to require financial institutions to train employees to recognize indicators of elderly financial exploitation, and on their obligation to properly report it and place a hold on suspicious transactions.
The legislation is cosponsored by Sen. Joshua Miller (D-Dist. 28, Cranston, Providence), Sen. V. Susan Sosnowski (D-Dist. 37, South Kingstown, New Shoreham), Sen. Dawn Euer (D-Dist. 13, Newport, Jamestown), Sen. Ana B. Quezada (D-Dist. 2, Providence), Sen. John P. Burke (D-Dist. 9, West Warwick), Rep. Leonidas P. Raptakis (D-Dist. 33, Coventry, East Greenwich, West Greenwich) and Sen. Alana M. DiMario (D-Dist. 36, Narragansett, North Kingstown).
Companion legislation (2022-H 7246) has been filed in the House by Rep. Jason Knight (D-Dist. 67, Barrington, Warren).