Code of the District of Columbia

Chapter 9A. Criminal Abuse and Neglect of Vulnerable Adults.


§ 22–931. Short title.

This chapter may be cited as the “Criminal Abuse, Neglect, and Financial Exploitation of Vulnerable Adults and the Elderly Act of 2000”.


(June 8, 2001, D.C. Law 13-301, § 201, 47 DCR 7039; Nov. 23, 2016, D.C. Law 21-166, § 3(a), 63 DCR 10733.)


§ 22–932. Definitions.

For the purposes of this chapter, the term:

(1) "Attorney General" means the Attorney General for the District of Columbia.

(2) "Court" means the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.

(3) "Elderly person" means a person who is 65 years of age or older.

(4) "United States Attorney" means the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia.

(5) "Vulnerable adult" means a person who is 18 years of age or older and has one or more physical or mental limitations that substantially impair the person's ability to independently provide for his or her daily needs or safeguard his or her person, property, or legal interests.


(June 8, 2001, D.C. Law 13-301, § 202, 47 DCR 7039; Nov. 23, 2016, D.C. Law 21-166, § 3(b), 63 DCR 10733.)


§ 22–933. Criminal abuse of a vulnerable adult or elderly person.

A person is guilty of criminal abuse of a vulnerable adult or elderly person if that person intentionally or knowingly:

(1) Inflicts or threatens to inflict physical pain or injury by hitting, slapping, kicking, pinching, biting, pulling hair or other corporal means;

(2) Uses repeated or malicious oral or written statements that would be considered by a reasonable person to be harassing or threatening; or

(3) Imposes unreasonable confinement or involuntary seclusion, including but not limited to, the forced separation from other persons against his or her will or the directions of any legal representative.


(June 8, 2001, D.C. Law 13-301, § 203, 47 DCR 7039; Nov. 23, 2016, D.C. Law 21-166, § 3(c), 63 DCR 10733.)


§ 22–933.01. Financial exploitation of a vulnerabl adult or elderly person.

(a) A person is guilty of financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult or elderly person if the person intentionally and knowingly:

(1) Uses deception, intimidation, or undue influence to obtain the property, including money, of a vulnerable adult or elderly person, with the intent to deprive the vulnerable adult or elderly person of the property or use it for the advantage of anyone other than the vulnerable adult or elderly person;

(2) Uses deception, intimidation, or undue influence to cause the vulnerable adult or elderly person to assume a legal obligation on behalf of, or for the benefit of, anyone other than the vulnerable adult or elderly person; or

(3) Violates any provision of law proscribing theft, extortion, forgery, fraud, or identity theft against the vulnerable adult or elderly person, so long as the offense was undertaken to obtain the property, including money, of a vulnerable adult or elderly person, or to cause the vulnerable adult or elderly person to assume a legal obligation on behalf of, or for the benefit of, anyone other than the vulnerable adult or elderly person.

(b) It is an affirmative defense that the accused knew or reasonably believed the victim was not a vulnerable adult or elderly person at the time of the offense, or could not have known or determined that the victim was a vulnerable adult or elderly person because of the manner in which the offense was committed. This defense shall be established by a preponderance of the evidence.

(c) For the purposes of this section, the term "undue influence" means mental, emotional, or physical coercion that overcomes the free will or judgment of a vulnerable adult or elderly person and causes the vulnerable adult or elderly person to act in a manner that is inconsistent with his or her financial, emotional, mental, or physical well-being.


(June 8, 2001, D.C. Law 13-301, § 203a; as added Nov. 23, 2016, D.C. Law 21-166, § 3(d), 63 DCR 10733.)


§ 22–934. Criminal negligence.

A person who knowingly, willfully or through a wanton, reckless or willful indifference fails to discharge a duty to provide care and services necessary to maintain the physical and mental health of a vulnerable adult or elderly person, including but not limited to providing adequate food, clothing, medicine, shelter, supervision and medical services, that a reasonable person would deem essential for the well-being of the vulnerable adult or elderly person is guilty of criminal negligence.


(June 8, 2001, D.C. Law 13-301, § 204, 47 DCR 7039; Nov. 23, 2016, D.C. Law 21-166, § 3(e), 63 DCR 10733.)


§ 22–935. Exception.

A person shall not be considered to commit an offense of abuse or neglect under this chapter for the sole reason that he provides or permits to be provided treatment by spiritual means through prayer alone in accordance with a religious method of healing, in lieu of medical treatment, to the vulnerable adult or elderly person to whom he has a duty of care with the express consent or in accordance with the practice of the vulnerable adult or elderly person.


(June 8, 2001, D.C. Law 13-301, § 205, 47 DCR 7039; Nov. 23, 2016, D.C. Law 21-166, § 3(f), 63 DCR 10733.)


§ 22–936. Penalties.

(a) A person who commits the offense of criminal abuse or criminal neglect of a vulnerable adult or elderly person shall be subject to a fine of not more than the amount set forth in § 22-3571.01, imprisoned for not more than 180 days, or both.

(b) A person who commits the offense of criminal abuse or criminal neglect of a vulnerable adult or elderly person which causes serious bodily injury or severe mental distress shall be subject to a fine of not more than the amount set forth in § 22-3571.01, imprisoned up to 10 years, or both.

(c) A person who commits the offense of criminal abuse or criminal neglect of a vulnerable adult or elderly person which causes permanent bodily harm or death shall be subject to a fine of not more than the amount set forth in § 22-3571.01, imprisoned up to 20 years, or both.


(June 8, 2001, D.C. Law 13-301, § 206, 47 DCR 7039; June 11, 2013, D.C. Law 19-317, § 208, 60 DCR 2064; Nov. 23, 2016, D.C. Law 21-166, § 3(g), 63 DCR 10733.)

Section References

This section is referenced in § 16-801 and § 22-951.

Effect of Amendments

The 2013 amendment by D.C. Law 19-317 substituted “not more than the amount set forth in § 22-3571.01” for “up to $1,000” in (a), for “up to $100,000” in (b), and for “up to $250,000” in (c).

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 208 of the Criminal Fine Proportionality Emergency Act of 2013 (D.C. Act 20-45, April 1, 2013, 60 DCR 5400, 20 DCSTAT 1300).

Editor's Notes

Applicability of D.C. Law 19-317: Section 401 of D.C. Law 19-317 provided that the act shall apply only to offenses committed on or after June 11, 2013.


§ 22–936.01. Criminal penalties for financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult or elderly person.

(a) Any person who commits the offense of financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult or elderly person in violation of § 22-933.01 shall be subject to the following criminal penalties:

(1) When the value of the property or legal obligation is $1,000 or more, a fine of not more than the amount set forth in § 22-3571.01, or imprisonment for not more than 10 years, or both.

(2) When the property or legal obligation has some value, a fine of not more than the amount set forth in § 22-3571.01, or imprisonment for not more than 180 days, or both.

(3) In addition to the penalties set forth in paragraphs (1) and (2) of this subsection, a person shall make restitution, before the payment of any fines or civil penalties.

(b) A person convicted of a violation of § 22-933.01 who has 2 or more prior convictions for violating § 22-933.01, not committed on the same occasion, shall be fined not more than the amount set forth in § 22-3571.01, or imprisoned for not more than 15 years, or both.


(June 8, 2001, D.C. Law 13-301, § 206a; as added Nov. 23, 2016, D.C. Law 21-166, § 3(h), 63 DCR 10733.)


§ 22–937. Civil penalties for financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult or elderly person.

(a) In addition to other penalties provided by law, a person who violates § 22-933.01 shall be subject to the following civil penalties:

(1) A fine of up to $5,000 per violation;

(2) Revocation of all permits, certificates, or licenses issued by the District of Columbia authorizing the person to provide services to vulnerable adults or elderly persons; and

(3) A temporary or permanent injunction.

(b) Restitution under § 22-936.01 shall be paid before the payment of any fines or civil penalties under this section.


(June 8, 2001, D.C. Law 13-301, § 207; as added Nov. 23, 2016, D.C. Law 21-166, § 3(i), 63 DCR 10733.)


§ 22–938. Injunctive relief and protections.

(a) Whenever the Attorney General or the United States Attorney has reason to believe that a person has engaged in financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult or elderly person in violation of § 22-933.01, the Attorney General or the United States Attorney may petition the court, which may be by ex-parte motion and without notice to the person, for one or more of the following:

(1) A temporary restraining order;

(2) A temporary injunction;

(3) An order temporarily freezing the person's assets; or

(4) Any other relief the court deems just.

(b) The court may grant an ex-parte motion authorized by subsection (a) of this section without notice to the person against whom the injunction or order is sought if the court finds that facts offered in support of the motion establish that:

(1) There is a substantial likelihood that the person committed financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult or elderly person;

(2) The harm that may result from the injunction or order is clearly outweighed by the risk of harm to the vulnerable adult or elderly person if the inunction or order is not issued; and

(3) If the Attorney General or the United States Attorney has petitioned for an order temporarily freezing assets, the order is necessary to prevent dissipation of assets obtained in violation of § 22-933.01.

(c)(1) An order temporarily freezing assets without notice to the person pursuant to subsections (a)(3) and (b) of this section shall expire on a date set by the court, not later than 14 days after the court issues the order unless, before that time, the court extends the order for good cause shown.

(2) A person whose assets were temporarily frozen under paragraph (1) of this subsection may move to dissolve or modify the order after notice to the Attorney General for the United States Attorney. The court shall hear and decide the motion or application on an expedited basis.

(d) The court may issue an order temporarily freezing the assets of the vulnerable adult or elderly person to prevent dissipation of assets; provided, that the court also appoints a receiver or conservator for those assets. The order shall allow for the use of assets to continue care for the vulnerable adult or elderly person, and can only be issued upon a showing that a temporary injunction or temporary restraining order authorized by this section would be insufficient to safeguard the assets, or with the consent of the vulnerable adult or elderly person or his or her legal representative.


(June 8, 2001, D.C. Law 13-301, § 208; as added Nov. 23, 2016, D.C. Law 21-166, § 3(i), 63 DCR 10733.)