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Zavogiannis helps to shape new law
Tougher guidelines now in place for crimes against elderly
District Attorney General Lisa Zavogiannis holds a copy of her elder abuse bill which became state law July 1. She is pictured with other district attorneys and assistant district attorneys, from left, Susan Sheldon, Matt Stowe, Tee Hassold, Ardath Griffin, Andrea Kline, and Kate Melby.
A years-long effort by District Attorney General Lisa Zavogiannis to better protect the elderly and intellectually challenged has become state law.What is known as the Elderly and Vulnerable Adult Protection Act took effect July 1.The new law provides more severe penalties to those who financially exploit the elderly and those with mental disabilities by taking the criminal charge one degree higher. For example, it increases a Class E Felony to a Class D Felony.“I think this is a great step needed to protect the elderly,” said Zavogiannis, who serves the 31st Judicial District of Warren and Van Buren counties. “We still have more to do, but this is the right direction and it’s a really big deal.”The law applies to elderly adults, defined as 70 or over, and vulnerable adults, defined as persons over 18 but with intellectual limitations that prevent them from fully managing their own resources.The enhanced charges can be applied to anyone.