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Illinois Financial Exploitation of Elderly or Disabled Person 720 ILCS 5 17-56

In Illinois Financial Exploitation of an Elderly or Disabled Person is a serious felony criminal offense that can carry penalties of up to 15 years in prison, depending on the manner of charging. Specific factors in each case, and the nature of the victim, can dramatically change the potential penalties.

Illinois Financial Exploitation of an Elderly or Disabled Person 720 ILCS 5/17-56

The statute is technically titled Financial Exploitation of an Elderly Person or Person with a Disability, and states:

(a) A person commits financial exploitation of an elderly person or a person with a disability when he or she stands in a position of trust or confidence with the elderly person or a person with a disability and he or she knowingly and by deception or intimidation obtains control over the property of an elderly person or a person with a disability or illegally uses the assets or resources of an elderly person or a person with a disability.

An example of a person who "stands in a position of trust or confidence" can be someone with an explicit fiduciary duty to victim, such as an accountant or bookkeeper, or a less formal caretaker, housekeeper or site nurse, whether paid or not. A family member or close family friend may qualify as well. The statute further spells out exactly what it means by an "elderly person or a person with a disability":

c) For purposes of this Section:
(1) "Elderly person" means a person 60 years of age or older.
(2) "Person with a disability" means a person who suffers from a physical or mental impairment resulting from disease, injury, functional disorder or congenital condition that impairs the individual's mental or physical ability to independently manage his or her property or financial resources, or both.

The Illinois Financial Exploitation statute also clearly states that it is not a defense "that the accused reasonably believed that the victim was not an elderly person or person with a disability". In other words, the defendant does not have to know that the victim qualifies for this legally protected status. 

The amount of the financial loss incurred, and the age of the victim, sets the possible penalty, and the possible charges range from a class 4 felony (1-3 years in prison) up to a class 1 felony (4-15 years in prison) plus restitution and up to a $25,000 fine plus costs. 

Finally, where the loss is $5,000 or greater, a prosecuting attorney has the authority under the statute to file a petition with the Court to seize the assets of the accused to secure restitution, and the burden of proof for that seizure is by a mere preponderance of the evidence - a much lighter burden than is required for the criminal case itself.

There are defenses available that may not be apparent, including technical forensic accounting or challenges to reliability of data, challenges to the degree of disability, the "existence of a position of trust or confidence" and more. A knowledgable Illinois criminal attorney can be very effective in securing options for you in a charge of Illinois Financial Exploitation of an Elderly or Disabled Person under 720 ILCS 5/17-56. 

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