CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - Gov. Maggie Hassan signed a law Thursday that strengthens the penalties for financially exploiting the elderly and other vulnerable New Hampshire citizens.
“Fully including all Granite Staters in our communities means standing up for the most vulnerable among us,” Hassan said.
Hassan said society has a responsibility to ensure people’s rights are not violated as they age or because they are impaired.
State Reps. Katherine Rogers, D-Concord, and Al Baldasaro, R-Londonderry, shepherded the bill through the Legislature. Rogers said the law sends a message that New Hampshire will not tolerate financial exploitation of the elderly.
The bill establishes clearer definitions of the crime of financial exploitation, which includes intentionally abusing the trust of an elderly or impaired adult to gain access to their money and assets. The law, which takes effect Jan. 1, makes it a crime to use the person’s money or assets for personal gain rather than to provide them with food, clothing, shelter and other care.
State and local law enforcement agencies would have the power to investigate complaints.
Penalties range from a misdemeanor to a felony depending on the amount of money diverted for personal use. The law also requires anyone convicted under the statute to make restitution.
People who make a good faith effort to help elderly, disabled or impaired adults manage their money would not be prosecuted.
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