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How Assisting Suicide Is a Form of Elder Abuse

June 10, 2017

Unless you are a licensed physician, assisting or encouraging suicide is against the law.

How Assisting Suicide Is a Form of Elder Abuse

Watching a loved one age can be an incredibly painful experience, particularly if they are suffering from a terminal disease or have terrible pain in their last days. The idea of euthanasia or assisted suicide is incredibly controversial in the United States. In California, the legislature recently legalized one form of assisted suicide, giving terminally-ill people the right to die with the assistance of a doctor. But if you are not a doctor, helping an elderly loved one die is a form of elder abuse — and a criminal act under California law.

As experienced elder abuse attorneys in Los Angeles, CA, we know that many people are faced with the dilemma of caring for older parents and other loved ones who are in excruciating pain and who no longer wish to be alive. However, under California law, it is illegal to help your loved one die if you are not a licensed physician — no matter how good your intentions may be, or how badly your loved one wants your assistance.

Aiding a suicide occurs when a person deliberately helps someone commit suicide or advises or encourages someone to commit suicide. The important word here is deliberately; the person has to do this intentionally in order to be charged with the crime of aiding a suicide.

Aiding a suicide can be charged if you procure the items needed for a person to commit suicide, such as the sleeping pills or other medication needed for a person to kill himself or herself, or if you encourage him or her to do it. If you help or encourage the person to commit suicide but the person does not succeed in the attempt, you could be charged with attempted aiding a suicide.

Of course, aiding a suicide is charged only when the person who dies kills himself or herself. If you actually kill the person in question — say that your elderly mother asks you to kill her because she can no longer live like this — then you could be charged with murder. There is an exception, however, if the death was the result of a suicide pact and you intended to die along with the other person.

Aiding a suicide is a felony under California law, and carries a potential sentence of up to three years in California state prison and a fine of up to $10,000. A seasoned elder abuse attorney in Los Angeles, CA may be able to defend against an aiding a suicide charge by claiming that your actions were not deliberate. In other words, you did not intend to encourage the other person to commit suicide, or that when you bought a certain item, you did not do so knowing that they would use it to harm themselves.

If you have been charged with aiding a suicide or any other form of elder abuse, you will need a skilled elder abuse attorneys. In Los Angeles, CA, contact the Chambers Law Firm at 855-397-0210 or dchambers@clfca.com. We will fight for your rights and for your freedom. Initial consultations are always free.

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