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The Justice System: Is Failure to Help Someone a Crime?

In the Justice System in America, it is generally not criminal to fail to render asssitance to an adult who could use your help. However, recently in California a nurse employed at an independent living facility, refused to provide CPR to a dying elderly woman because the facility had a policy against administering CPR to its members. Although the facility maintains that its members were fully aware of its no-CPR policy, police have opened a criminal investigation to determine whether any criminal charges should be filed.

While the commission of abuse against an elder or dependent adult is a serious violation of law in the justice system, criminal penalties are generally dependent upon willful conduct, not just a failure to act. However, in Michigan, a caregiver could face criminal penalties for a failure to act where the caregiver is reckless and causes a vulnerable adult serious physical or mental harm.

Research to date fails to reveal any legal precedent under Michigan law specifically dealing with criminal penalties resulting from a caregiver failing to perform CPR. However, Michigan's legislature is continuously taking steps to prevent abuse and exploitation of elders and vulnerable adults.

Therefore, if you or a family member currently work in an assisted living facility or nursing home, or if you currently face criminal charges for abusing a vulnerable adult or other similar criminal charges, it is important that you contact an experienced Michigan criminal defense attorney today that will protect your rights.  Do not wait until you have already been charged to hire an attorney.  Many times mitigation begins at the outset with a pre-charge meeting before the prosecutor.  You cannot afford to delay.

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