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Name: People v. Davis
Case #: E034765
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 02/18/2005

Appellant was a nursing home administrator who was convicted in a court trial of failing to report abuse or suspected abuse of a dependent adult, in violation of the Elder Abuse Act. On appeal, she argued that the trial court erred by finding her guilty based on its conclusion that a reasonable person in her position would have entertained a suspicion that abuse had occurred, instead of requiring a subjective recognition that the act in question (placing a patient in a chokehold) constituted abuse. The appellate court rejected appellant’s argument. The Elder Abuse Act mandates reporting of any circumstance giving rise to an objective basis for suspecting that abuse occurred. Imposing the subjective standard suggested by appellant would result in a more limited duty to report, which is incompatible with the purposes of the Act. The Act further does not allow a mandated reporter to determine that no abuse occurred. Also, the offense is one of strict liability, and does not require criminal negligence as a mental state. The evidence supported the conclusion that appellant knew that the conduct constituted abuse and deliberately chose not to report it.