New Hampshire Criminalizes Elderly Financial Exploitation

New Hampshire recently closed a gap in its laws by amending the criminal code to make financial exploitation of an elderly, disabled, or impaired adult a criminal offense. The amendments became effective at the beginning of this year. In the 18 March 2015 issue of the New Hampshire Bar News, Susan Hollinger summarizes the amendments:

Prior to this statutory change, unless the incident involved an obvious crime, such as a forged check, it was common for reports of financial exploitation to be considered “family” or “civil” matters, leaving those who report their suspicions, or leaving the victim, with nowhere to turn and the perpetrator free to continue the exploitation.

As of Jan. 1, RSA 631:9 and :10, the sections of the criminal code dealing with assault and related offenses, gives law enforcement officers and prosecutors clear guidance on what constitutes the crime of financial exploitation, thus supporting efforts to successfully investigate and prosecute offenders.

Under the amended law, for example, it is criminal financial exploitation if a person, in the absence of legal authority, knowingly or recklessly uses undue influence, harassment, duress, force, compulsion or coercion to acquire property (real, personal, or financial), of an elderly adult, or to establish a fiduciary relationship that gives the person control of the elder adult’s property.