Laws and Public Policy

Abuse, neglect and exploitation are more than private tragedies, although they typically occur in private relationships where an older or vulnerable adult is trusting and victimized. Taken together, these cases are a community problem that requires a broad solution.

Minnesota has been a leader in passing laws and reforming systems to prevent, detect, and respond to the victimization of vulnerable adults. The Vulnerable Adult Act, first passed in 1980, was among the earliest in the nation to require reporting suspected maltreatment and to trigger emergency social services.

In recent years, new laws have been passed to make it easier for people to report suspected cases, to combat the growth of financial exploitation, and to give law enforcement better tools to achieve justice for victims. Many of these advances came from the work of the Vulnerable Adult Justice Project, which is now the Minnesota Elder Justice Center Partners.

2009 Chapter 119 made sweeping changes to Minnesota laws on financial exploitation of vulnerable adults.

2011 Chapter 28 strengthened penalties for assault of a vulnerable adult and mandated that perpetrators of sexual crimes against residents by their facility caregivers be registered as predatory offenders.

2012 Chapter 175 added a felony penalty to the most serious neglect of vulnerable adults. The Vulnerable Adult Justice Project led the effort to reach consensus on this issue, resolving many years of controversy among stakeholders.

2013 Chapter 5 gave prosecutors additional tools for prosecuting financial exploitation by permitting aggregation of sums taken from the victim as well as options for where the case is prosecuted (venue).

2013 Chapter 23 added clarity and protections to the statutory short form Power of Attorney.