Title 11
Criminal Offenses

Chapter 5

R.I. Gen. Laws § 11-5-12

§ 11-5-12. Abuse, neglect and/or exploitation of adults with severe impairments.

(a) Any person primarily responsible for the care of an adult with severe impairments who shall willfully and knowingly abuse, neglect or exploit that adult shall be subject to a fine of not more than two thousand dollars ($2,000), or imprisoned not more than five (5) years, or both, and ordered to make full restitution of any funds as the result of any exploitation which results in the misappropriation of funds. Every person convicted of or placed on probation for violation of this section shall be ordered by the sentencing judge to attend appropriate professional counseling to address his or her abusive behavior.

(b) As used in this section:

(1) “Abuse” means the subjection of an adult with a severe impairment to willful infliction of physical pain, willful deprivation of services necessary to maintain the physical or mental health of the person, or unreasonable confinement.

(2) “Adult with severe impairments” means a person over the age of eighteen (18) who has a disability which is attributable to a mental or physical impairment or combination of mental and physical impairments and results in substantial functional limitations in one or more of the following areas of major life activity: (i) mobility; (ii) self-care; (iii) communication; (iv) receptive and/or expressive language; (v) learning; (vi) self-direction; (vii) capacity for independent living; or (viii) economic self-sufficiency.

(3) “Exploitation” means an act or process of taking pecuniary advantage of impaired persons by use of undue influence, harassment, duress, deception, false representation, false pretenses, or misappropriation of funds.

(4) “Neglect” means the willful refusal to provide services necessary to maintain the physical or mental health of an adult with severe impairments.

(5) “Person primarily responsible for care” or “caregiver” means any person who is for a significant period of time the primary caregiver or is primarily responsible for the management of the funds of an adult with severe impairments.

(c) Violations of this section shall be reported to the local police department.

(d) After July 1, 2007 pursuant to § 40-8.5-2, the local police department may request the department of behavioral healthcare, developmental disabilities and hospitals provide crisis intervention services for the adult victim with severe impairments when:

(1) necessary to ensure the immediate health and safety of the adult victim;

(2) the adult victim relies on the person believed to have committed the abuse, neglect and/or exploitation, for assistance in performing three (3) or more major life activities; and

(3) After the victim is informed of his or her right to refuse crisis intervention and/or supportive services.

(e) Any person who fails to report known or suspected abuse or neglect shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction shall be subject to a fine of not more than five hundred dollars ($500).

(f) Nothing in this section shall be interpreted to apply to the discontinuance of life-support systems or life-sustaining treatment for an adult for whom, if the treatment were terminated, death may result.

(g) Any person participating in good faith in making a report pursuant to this chapter, excluding any perpetrator or conspirator of the acts, shall have immunity from any civil liability that might otherwise be incurred or imposed.

(h) Nothing in this section shall be interpreted to prohibit the use of any medical or psychological treatment procedure designed and conducted in accordance with applicable professional standards when performed by appropriately trained personnel under the supervision of a person or facility licensed or approved by the state of Rhode Island and when any consent as is required by law has been obtained.

(i) Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to mean a person is abused or neglected for the sole reason that the person is being furnished or relies upon treatment by spiritual means through prayer alone in accordance with the tenets and practices of a church or religious denomination recognized by the laws of this state.

(j) Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to mean a person is abused or neglected when the parent or legal guardian of an adult with severe impairments, who is the person primarily responsible for care of the adult, (1) decides, in good faith, not to accept support services from a governmental agency, which in the opinion of the parent or legal guardian and the adult, is considered to be inappropriate or inconsistent with the best interests of that adult; or (2) decides, in good faith, to reduce or discontinue assistance to that adult who is developing, acquiring or practicing independent decision-making or living skills.

History of Section.
P.L. 1990, ch. 210, § 1; P.L. 1993, ch. 456, § 1; P.L. 2006, ch. 169, § 1; P.L. 2006, ch. 175, § 1; P.L. 2006, ch. 196, § 1; P.L. 2006, ch. 268, § 1; P.L. 2012, ch. 254, § 1; P.L. 2012, ch. 264, § 1.