Gov. Reynolds signs bill adding criminal penalties to elder abuse
Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a bill into law on Wednesday that attaches criminal penalties to elder abuse in Iowa.
The law sets new mandatory minimums for the abuse of an "older individual," defined as someone 60 and older.
Penalties range from a simple misdemeanor to a Class D felony and cover a range of abuse from physical assault to financial exploitation.
Reynolds signed the bill at the Highland Ridge Senior Living Community in Williamsburg.
"The safety and well being of older Iowans is so very important," she said. "And this bill provides greater reassurance that there will be consequences for those who target and harm them."
Groups that advocated for the bill said Iowa's previous laws weren't strong enough to allow law enforcement officers to charge those who abuse and take advantage of elderly Iowans.
The new law also creates a new charge for the financial exploitation of older Iowans.
"Abuse doesn't always mean physical. It can also mean financial crimes," Reynolds said. "And this bill also establishes criminal penalties for those that target older individuals for that purpose."
The bill passed both the Iowa House and Senate unanimously.
The new law goes into effect on July 1.