Commonwealth’s Attorney: Legislation combating elder abuse advances in Virginia General Assembly

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RICHMOND, Va. (WJHL) – Bills that allow adult protective service workers to get court-ordered protection for elders in danger have advanced in the Virginia General Assembly.

According to a release from Wise County Commonwealth’s Attorney Chuck Slemp, the identical bills passed on January 27, 2021. House BIll 2018 passed the House of Delegates 100-0 and Senate Bill 1297 passed 39-0.

“These bills are identical proposals to close a loophole in existing law and allow adult protective services workers to seek a temporary court protective order in emergency situations in order to safeguard incapacitated adults subjected to an act of violence, force, threat or financial exploitation,” the release states.

 The proposed legislation was created due to requests from organizations and individuals concerned with elder justice. The release says the Virginia Criminal Justice Conference was among those advocating for the bills.

Slemp testified in both the House and Senate before committees considering the protective measures.

“This is a simple bill, but an important reform. It will provide needed protections for abused, neglected, exploited, and vulnerable adults in emergency situations. We need this new law to close a loophole in Virginia law and to fight elder abuse,” Slemp said.

The release says late Senator Ben Chafin had planned to introduce the measure during the 2021 session. Following his death on January 1, Senator Mark Obenshain (R-Harrisonburg) and Delegate Mike Mullin (D-Newport News) introduced the legislation on his behalf.

“We worked closely with Senator Chafin, the Attorney General’s Office, judges at all levels of Virginia’s judiciary, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and elder justice advocates in crafting this legislation,” Slemp, a member of the VCJC, said. “Senator Chafin took a particular interest in this issue and represented Departments of Social Services in his private practice. It is my hope that this important new law will safeguard a vulnerable population and will be a testament of Senator Chafin’s lasting legacy of public service and commitment to protecting seniors from elder abuse. I am very thankful for the efforts of Senator Obenshain and Delegate Mullin this session to get this bill passed on his behalf.”

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