After Defendant’s Alleged Assault of Her Elderly Mother “Neglect of An Elderly Person” Charge Overturned

State v. M.K.P.

Appellate Docket No.: A-2555-19

Decided and published February 14, 2022

Submitted by New Jersey Civil Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark

In a recently published opinion, the Appellate Division of New Jersey overturned a conviction of neglect of an elderly person pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:24-8(a) after defendant’s alleged assault of her elderly mother.

In State v. M.K.P., in January 2017, I.P. (Irene), facing eviction, moved from Florida to the Englewood home of defendant, who is her daughter, and defendant’s paramour, F.L. (Fred). According to testimony, Irene and defendant had a “[t]ypical mother and daughter” relationship, ranging from affectionate to tense. On August 5, 2018, defendant and Fred went out to lunch with friends, leaving Irene home alone until around 3:00 p.m. Defendant had consumed alcohol at lunch, continued to drink after getting home and, according to testimony, was slightly intoxicated. While Fred sat in the living room, he heard Irene and defendant arguing in a nearby bedroom. The argument escalated into a “screaming” match and Fred entered the bedroom to “quell the quarreling.” On entering, Fred observed Irene with her back to a wall shaking a back scratcher at defendant while defendant gripped Irene’s hands to avoid being struck. Because the pair “were going back and forth with each other still,” Fred used “a little bit of force” to physically pull defendant out of the room. Defendant, however, reentered the room three more times to reengage with Irene; each time, Fred physically removed her. Fred testified he did not observe anything wrong with Irene’s face, though he also admitted he was suffering from a cataract and could only see “gray” and generally a “person’s form.” Defendant remained on the couch with Fred that evening, and Irene remained in the bedroom. Fred did not see that defendant had sustained any injuries.

Police arrived at a different residence and found Irene on the front yard. The officer observed injuries and arrested defendant. Defendant was charged with one count of third-degree aggravated assault, N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(b)(12), and one count of third-degree neglect of an elderly person, N.J.S.A. 2C:24-8(a). A jury convicted defendant of a lesser charge of simple assault and a neglect of an elderly person.

Defendant appealed the conviction, arguing her actions do not violate the neglect of an elderly person statute. N.J.S.A. 2C:24- 8(a) makes it a third-degree offense for a person, in the relationship defendant was in with Irene, to “abandon[]” or “unreasonably neglect[] to do or fail[] to permit to be done any act necessary for the physical or mental health” of the elderly person. The Appellate Division reversed the conviction and found that defendant’s actions of the alleged assault to not trigger the statute, as it was an assault and not neglect of her mother.

If you have been charged with a first degree, second degree, third degree, or fourth degree indictable offense, disorderly persons or petty disorderly persons offense, contact the experienced criminal defense attorneys at Hark & Hark today. At Hark & Hark, we represent clients in Superior Court for criminal matters like the present case. We vigorously defend our clients by fighting to uphold their constitutional rights, and ensure law enforcement and the prosecutor’s office follow proper procedures to legally convict the accused.

We offer payment plan options to clients financially incapable of providing full payment upfront. If you are facing criminal charges similar to this circumstance, please call us to discuss the matter. At Hark & Hark, we represent clients for any case in any county in New Jersey including Atlantic County, Bergen County, Burlington County, Camden County, Cape May County, Cumberland County, Essex County, Gloucester County, Hudson County, Hunterdon County, Mercer County, Middlesex County, Monmouth County, Morris County, Ocean County, Passaic County, Salem County, Somerset County, Sussex County, Union County, and Warren County and any town including Bridgeton, Commercial Township, Deerfield Township, Downe Township, Fairfield Township, Greenwich Township, Hopewell Township, Lawrence Township, Maurice River Township, Millville, Shiloh Borough, Stow Creek Township, Upper Deerfield Township, and Vineland.

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Criminal Civil Lawyer

Jeffrey Hark is a New Jersey Civil and Criminal Lawyer.

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