Oregon Lawmakers Working on Abuse Bill to Protect Elderly and Children

Oregon_State_Capitol_2Oregon legislators are working on a bill that would make it a felony to cut or bruise the elderly and children. The goal is to protect children too young to testify and adults unable to testify because of dementia or other age-related conditions.

The bill is significant primarily because it would no longer require the victim of abuse to detail that the bruises or cuts were painful or hindered their ability to move or function in order to secure felony assault or criminal mistreatment convictions.

The change in language is particularly important for criminal prosecutors who argue that requiring young children or the elderly to detail the pain or trauma the abuse caused is problematic. The Oregonian reports, “Last month, prosecutors, police and a Portland pediatrician descended on Salem to ask the Senate Judiciary Committee to pass the bill. It would amend the definition of ‘physical injury’ to mean ‘physical trauma’ — including ‘fractures, cuts, punctures, bruises, burns or other wounds.’ The change would make it similar to the definition for animals who are abused. John Troncoso, a lieutenant with the Keizer Police Department, said the new law would make a ‘huge’ difference in some cases because police and prosecutors wouldn’t have to rely on victims’ ‘subjective’ statements to prove they suffered a ‘physical injury.’”

“We can see bruises, we can see scrapes,” Troncoso said. “We can photograph those. We can document those. Many times, people don’t want to describe those to us because they’ve been threatened not to talk to us. Sometimes the children are too young to talk.”

This is a common sense bill that should be passed and signed into law so that the elderly and children are protected from those who prey on them. Police and prosecutors are trained to spot physical abuse and they shouldn’t have to rely on victim testimony that the abuse caused pain or trauma. A physical assault is a physical assault regardless of the pain or trauma it caused.

Dumas and Vaughn Attorneys at Law has law offices in Portland, Oregon and serves clients in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and other states.

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