Intentional abuse or neglect of a vulnerable adult can be charged as a felony in Minnesota, now that Gov. Mark Dayton signed a bill passed with bipartisan support.
Previously, such crimes often perpetrated against elderly victims were treated at most as gross misdemeanors with no prison time.
With all the highly charged partisan activity abounding in this year’s session, the governor made a big point of stressing that both Republicans and DFLers voted for the bill, and he appeared with a bipartisan group at the official signing.
Reports of caregivers depriving a vulnerable adult of food, shelter, supervision, clothing or health care led to the legislative efforts.
Lawmakers worked with health care workers and the nurses union to craft the law. A blog from the Minnesota Nurses Association said:
The compromise was an effort between all parties to protect the rights of workers in cases of understaffing, while giving the county attorney the right to charge someone who intends to neglect a vulnerable adult with a felony as opposed to a gross misdemeanor.
The bill signed by Dayton also increases penalties for those who use restraints to harm a child. It was included in the bill following reports of a case where a child was chained to a bed every night, but the parents could only be charged with a misdemeanor.