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What are the consequences of guardianship abuse?

Serving as a guardian is a major responsibility. And with this responsibility comes considerable control over another person's life. As such, guardians must act appropriately and make sound decisions that prioritize the ward's best interests.

If a guardian exploits, deceives, intimidates or harasses an at-risk adult in Colorado, there can be severe consequences. 

Criminal charges

In cases where a guardian steals money or property, he or she could be charged with theft.

Abusing, assaulting or neglecting an at-risk adult can result in felony charges.

Other charges that can stem from abuse or exploitation of an at-risk adult by a guardian include perjury, filing false records and fraud. These, too, can result in misdemeanor and felony charges against a guardian.

Upon conviction of these crimes against an at-risk adult, a person could face a wide range of criminal penalties, including jail or lengthy prison sentences.

Financial penalties

Guardians who abuse their position can also be looking at civil actions and other financial penalties, including:

  • Repayment of stolen property or money
  • Restitution
  • Legal fees
  • Fines (which could be $500 or more than $750,000, depending on the details of the crime)

Other costly penalties

A guardian who commits these or other guardianship violations can lose any professional license they may have. They can lose their job, as well as any personal relationships with a victim's family, who could also be the guardian's family. 

Every guardian must take his or her responsibilities seriously, considering how severe the consequences of committing a crime against an at-risk adult can be.

If you are worried about fulfilling your obligations in this role, you should discuss your concerns with an attorney. If you believe your loved one is the victim of abuse or neglect by a guardian, you can also contact an attorney or the authorities to report misconduct.

Guardians can be one of the few people who are looking out for the best interests of a vulnerable adult; in some cases, they are the only person in this position. As such, people must choose guardians wisely and keep an eye out for signs of misconduct.

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