Defining Vulnerable Adult Abuse in Virginia

Vulnerable adult abuse is something that is not really discussed in many communities because people do not know what the term vulnerable adults means. Defining vulnerable adults in Virginia can allow individuals to understand whether they have indeed abused someone who is considered vulnerable or not. Furthermore, questioning the definition of vulnerable adults can sometimes be helpful in crafting a defense. A skilled abuse lawyer can use the definition of vulnerable adult to challenge the status of the alleged victim as a vulnerable person, contributing to your defense. If you have been charged with vulnerable adult abuse, retain the services of a capable abuse attorney.

Vulnerable Adults According to Virginia Law

Under Virginia law, a vulnerable adult is going to be somebody who usually is an older person. It is something that is defined by Virginia law as opposed to defined by Virginia statute. Just like there is Child Protective Services, there is Adult Protective Services.

They deal with these elder abuse situations. It is usually somebody who is going to be older; somebody over the age of 18 who is usually somebody older in life, so over the age of 60 or 70.  Vulnerable Either by age or by other disability, a condition where they have a decreased capacity to stand up for themselves and defend themselves or otherwise merits some type of special treatment.

When defining vulnerable adults in Virginia, the law is usually referring to people who are incapacitated and does not have the ability to defend themselves.

It is hard because the term is used interchangeably with the idea of somebody who is at risk versus somebody who has something about their person that makes them incapacitated or particularly vulnerable. There are certain people who are actually considered vulnerable in the law and then there is vulnerability—for example, there are vulnerable, isolated individuals. People who are isolated can be considered vulnerable adults according to Adult Protection Services. Individuals who have mental health issues or decreased mobility are also considered vulnerable.

Proving Abuse

A person needs to show that, first of all, they are part of the protected population that people refer to when defining vulnerable adults. In this case, it would be something like an incapacitated adult, so somebody who is over 18, who has some kind of impairment, whether it be mental, physical, or at the end of the day, just does not have the capacity to communicate or execute decisions. A person has to show that they are an incapacitated adult so that they are a protected population.


Then a person has to show that they either abused or neglected that person. The prosecutors want to prove, for abuse, the intention, the knowing and willful element or something that is restraining them for abuse. It is something that is also punished in the state of Virginia, so knowing and willful injury or pain or knowing and willful restraint of an individual who is in a protected population. Then, neglect is also the same intent as knowing and willful, but it is the failure to act. It is either to failing to provide some service, some treatment, or some something that an individual is supposed to provide to the incapacitated person that does result in either endangerment or their actual injury.

Depending on what the person is charged with, that is how it is going to play out. If a person is charged with abuse, it is going to be causing physical pain, and causing physical injury or restraining, and then it also has to be knowing and willful.

If it is neglect, it is going to have either endangering the safety or some injury, and then that needs to be knowing and willful and then the act is usually not doing treatment, not giving services, or not giving care in order to cause those things.

Role of a Lawyer

Vulnerable adult abuse charges can have a negative impact on a person’s life. Individuals may find it more difficult to find and keep a job, especially if they are convicted of vulnerable adult abuse. The charges also carry a stigma because the individual has taken advantage of people who are incapable of taking care of themselves. If you face vulnerable adult abuse charges, speak with a qualified attorney who will understand how defining vulnerable adults in Virginia can bolster your defense.

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