Houston Office: 713.225.8000 | The Woodlands Office: 281.609.2900

Exploitation of a Child, Elderly or Disabled Person

Exploitation of Child, Elderly Individual or Disabled Individual

Financial crimes come with serious consequences, especially those involving exploitation of a child, elderly person or disabled individual. Improper or illegal use of a vulnerable person’s funds, property, assets or identity is a felony-level criminal offense. This means you could be sentenced to serve out your time in prison for years.

Additionally, the state of Texas has added new laws as of September 2019 to their exploitation laws. Now, the statute for exploitation of a vulnerable person is significantly longer and prior offenses or similar acts can be used against you if permitted as evidence by the judge. For these reasons and more, we highly urge you to gain trusted legal representation.

Attorney for Exploitation of a Child, Elder, or Disabled Person in The Woodlands, TX

Victims of fraud tend to be people who are incredibly susceptible to coercion such as elderly people, children or disabled individuals. It might surprise you, but the statistics related to elder financial abuse and fraud are especially alarming. Estimates by the National Council of Aging (NCOA) states that elderly Americans lose around $2.9 billion to $36.5 billion a year annually. What’s even more shocking is that these numbers are largely unreported.

If you or someone you know has been charged with exploitation, it’s time you obtain trusted legal representation. The penalties for exploitation of a child, elder or disabled person are incredibly serious including time in prison. To fight back we recommend you hire Horak Law.

Matthew Horak is an experienced white collar crime attorney with extensive resources he can utilize for your case. He knows the ins and outs of fraud and extortion law, so he can use his knowledge to help your case. Call (713) 225-8000 now to set up your first consultation free. Horak Law represents people throughout the greater Montgomery County area including Conroe, Montgomery, the Woodlands, Magnolia and Willis.

Overview of Exploitation of a Vulnerable Person in TX

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What Constitutes Exploitation of a Child, Elder or Disabled Person in Texas?

Exploitation has more than one definition, but for legal practices it’s the illegal or improper use of a child, elderly or disabled individual or their resources for monetary or personal benefit, profit or gain. According to Texas Statute 32.53, you’re guilty of the crime if you intentionally, knowingly or recklessly financially exploit a child, elderly or disabled individual. The intent is incredibly important in this context, because without malicious intent there is no crime.

Most exploitation cases involve an elderly victim since they pay less attention to their finances and may be quick to befriend another person due to isolation. However, children and disabled people also suffer from exploitation if their caretakers take advantage of them or their identities are stolen for another’s gain. Some examples of exploitation include:

  • Cashing checks without permission of account holder;
  • Coercing another person into signing a financial writing;
  • Using another’s credit card without permission;
  • Forging another’s information to obtain credit or property;
  • Investment fraud schemes;
  • Using deceit into tricking the account holder into signing a document;
  • Stealing money or possessions;
  • Using another’s identity or photo I.D; and
  • Altering wills, title, policies, power of attorney without lawful authority

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Penalties for Exploitation in Texas

Texas has harsh penalties for exploitation to deter future criminals from attempting the crime. A conviction could mean a third-degree felony, which is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Felony convictions are especially serious because the charges could follow you post-release. Many released felons have issues obtaining housing, employment, educational opportunities and ability to apply for loans.

Most people charged with exploitation also have other charges such as credit card fraud or theft. It’s important to note that you can’t obtain severance if you’re convicted of exploitation. This means you won’t have separate jury trials for each offense and if you’re convicted for both crimes the sentences must run concurrently.

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New Exploitation Laws in Texas

As of September 2019, a new law was implemented to decrease exploitation among vulnerable individuals. Under the Code for Criminal Procedure (CCP) article 38.471, the prosecution can utilize evidence where the defendant has engaged in other conduct similar to the alleged criminal act they’ve been charged with. The reasoning for this is that the state attorney will have a much easier time showing the defendant’s knowledge or intent to commit the crime.

Although the statute is vague, it’s now majorly changed the way prosecutors approach these cases. Now, any prior arrest or charges of similar financial crimes can be permitted as evidence and used against you. Previously, the court would only sometimes allow the knowledge of prior convictions for finance offenses in an exploitation case. The new legislation has now changed that so any trace of a previous financial crime such as an arrest can be used against you.

Not all types of evidence are permitted in the courtroom. It’s important to note that character evidence is inadmissible under the Texas Rules of Evidence even under this new law.

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Additional Resources

How to Spot & Report Elder Abuse – Visit the official website for the Attorney General of Texas, Ken Paxton. Access his site to learn more about how to identify elder abuse, neglect or exploitation. Find more information on the many forms of abuse, links to Adult Protective Services, resources for help and how to receive Medicaid funding.

Exploitation Laws in Texas – Visit the official website for the Texas Penal Code to read up more on exploitation and fraud laws in Texas. Access the site to learn more about exploitation of children, elderly or disabled people, credit card fraud, identity theft and other related fraudulent crimes.

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Defense Attorney for Exploitation Cases in Harris County, TX

If you or someone you know has been charged with exploitation or any other fraudulent crime, it’s time you take action. Hiring an experienced and skilled attorney is the first step to reducing or dismissing your charges. We recommend you contact Horak Law for quality legal representation.

Matthew Horak has an in-depth understanding of financial offenses and the new laws passed for exploitation cases. He can assess your charges and formulate a defense plan with you. To learn more, call his office at Horak Law to set up your first consultation.

Horak Law represents people throughout the Harris County area and surrounding counties including Liberty County, Fort Bend County, Montgomery County, Galveston County, Brazoria County and Montgomery County.

This article was last updated on November 22, 2019.


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Houston, TX 77007


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The Woodlands, TX 77380